©Joy Dunlap  https://joydunlap.com

Many of us love donning green shirts, hats, scarves or buttons on March 17, and at parties preceding it, but is “wearing green” ever not good?

Green brings to mind rebirth, springtime – and, oh, yes, recycling – but some literary and historical references tie green to something less positive.

So, when is “Wearing Green” not Good in our Lives?

When it’s Envy

“Green with envy” is a reference used by Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in the 1880s.  Centuries earlier, Shakespeare wrote about “green-eyed jealousy” in The Merchant of Venice.

One of the 10 Commandments shows the seriousness of envy in “Thou Shalt Not Covet.”  Dante’s classic Inferno identifies envy as one of the seven deadly sins.

Why is envy so destructive?   

At the core of envy is not only discontentment and disappointment, but also a distrust of God’s work in our lives. When we’re jealous or envious, we’re basically telling God we doubt Him. Our failure to sincerely rejoice with others in their good fortunes and instead to resent them is a mind-shout (and a heart reveal) that we don’t believe God is doing right by us. The underlying state of mind is that we aren’t happy with the gifts and blessings He’s provided to us – and we want (perhaps even feel we “deserve”) something someone else got.

Envy eats from the inside.

O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on, wrote Shakespeare in Othello. Long before Shakespeare penned that popular literary work in the 1600s, the Bible addressed the destructive nature of envy and jealousy.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.  Proverbs 14:30 NIV

A sense of entitlement, a gratitude deficiency or a lack of self-confidence can lay seed to envy.  So can arrogance, greed or fear. Fear someone else got what you want. FSEGWYW.  It’s FOMO on steroids (or alphabet soup).  It can steadily build to action – perhaps gossip, then slander, or even accelerate to other acts, even criminal ones. The damage envy does internally is significant. It seeps deeper and deeper inside until compassion, benevolence and kindness diminish.

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.  Romans 1:29-31 NIV

Sounds ominous.  Surely envy can’t be worn by any of us.

Mmmm…..Ever felt envious over a job someone got, the “perfect” kids others have, the contract someone landed, the recognition someone attained, the money/home/car/trip of another?  Did the green bile start to rise up?

How can we know if envy is taking hold in us?

Examine our words. 

Are we saying negative things about others?  Exaggerating information about someone to others?  Criticizing more than complimenting?  Using the words “If only I had…”  or “How did they ever get ____”?

Examine our thoughts.

Are we comparing what others have to what we think we deserve or what we want?  Getting angry over the blessings or benefits of others? Being more judgmental?

Examine our feelings and emotions.

Is our love and compassion for others increasing or decreasing?  Are we genuinely joyful for the successes of others?  What are our first thoughts when someone achieves, accomplishes or attains something we don’t have?

Examine our actions.

In what ways do we actively support and help others achieve their goals?  What actions do we take to celebrate an accomplishment or recognize something new in someone’s life?   How often do we praise and promote the work, abilities and successes of our friends or colleagues?

In extreme cases, envy can lead to criminal theft of possessions. In more common actions, it can rob others of their elation due to negative comments we make or supportive ones we avoid making.  It steals our peace and contentment.

What character traits does Scripture show us are in opposition to envy? Love. Kindness. Patience. Mercy.  Consideration.  Sincerity.

Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  James 3:15-17 NIV

The peace, love and wisdom found through God are treasures beyond compare, and they are available to each of us.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV

Is it possible you’re “wearing green” in envy or jealousy?  Just a tad bit?  How can you strip it off?

  • Put on humility.
  • Write a daily gratitude list.
  • Read God’s word.
  • Ask God to reveal times when you are envious or jealous – and to help you combat them.
  • Praise and thank God for at least three things daily.
  • Ask a close friend to remind you when your words about others aren’t positive.
  • Sincerely congratulate those who are joyous about an accomplishment or event in their lives.
  • Find ways to support those around you in achieving – and then celebrating – their goals.

How will you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?  Will you wear green?

Think of a time when you felt envious.  Be honest now.  Why did you feel that way? 

What steps will you take to guard your thoughts, words, feelings and actions against envy? 

Do you like Lucky Charms?  (Just wondering.  I do!)

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.  Galatians 5:25-26 NIV

Remember…Life Is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full!


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