I long for deeper and closer friendships in my life, and I have been grateful for the men who have come into my world. But I often struggle with the deep envy of the same men I would want as a closer brother. I am both drawn to them and their gifts, yet, I am jealous of them.
Their presence can almost feel like a threat.
Brothers And Envy
I can quickly measure my life and progress against theirs. I can secretly put together a scorecard for my life vs. theirs. You name it by comparing their lifestyle, athletic prowess, character, parenting style, and gifts.
Our first story of two flesh and blood brothers, Cain and Abel, does not go well in the Bible. Inevitably, due to sin, the jealous nature of our fallen hearts ends with Cain taking all his anger and disappointment into his own hand and killing his brother instead of trusting God.
Continuing down the family tree, you find Jacob and Esau. There is trickery amongst a brother for that longing to be blessed and validated by the Father. And even after all that, Jacob has a son who is thrown into a pit and left for dead. It is all because of Jacob’s brother’s jealousy. Envy turns to a plan for murder.
When we are not blessed and not given our identity in our Father or look to Him, we envy friendships and brothers. And it can get messy.
But the interesting thing in all these biblical stories of brothers, and today, is the root need, is our desire to be blessed and affirmed. So their stories and our stories are searching for that blessing from their Father.
Notice that most of us are not jealous of fathers and mentors as much as brothers near our age and stage in life. Why is that?
I think, in part, it is because we turn against one another and try to compete.
But God’s affirmation and blessing of one man is never in the diminishment of another. He doesn’t give one gift or withhold from another. He might do different things in different seasons, but he can bless all. And he does. It’s not a zero-sum game.
We need to see the gifts of our brothers’ gifts and what he has given us as not something we earned. We can’t do something to achieve it. And that is one of the hardest parts to understand. That one man’s gift could be a gift to us because we need each other.
When envy rises, and I can catch it, it is often an opportunity for me to confess and get in touch with that need in me. When I admit jealousy, I often find that I am letting go and giving my need to God. As opposed to hating someone else, I depended on my Father to lead me.
Confess your jealousy vs. letting it build up. I remember telling a friend recently about my jealousy of their writing skills. It was good to release that to them rather than create a divide between us. It turned out that it was an encouraging word they needed to say through sharing. And it brought us closer.
As men, we must be affirmed, spoken to, called into our identity, and loved. And for most men, it is rare to understand the deep need for a blessing.
We layer it by earning it, achievement, and results to be seen. Hence, why do we compete and envy? We think we might find out if we can do that or be that.
James 4:3 says, “You desire but you do not have, so you kill. You covet, but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have to because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
What if we were to affirm our brothers instead of competing with them?
We can come together as brothers, seeking the Father’s Blessing.
Do you struggle with envy of another brother?
If yes, why do you think you do?
What do you think you can do to change the way you view what others have?
Next time you see a man you envy or possibly want to grow closer to as a brother, be reminded that he is in search of the same thing you are after life. And he might not even know the strength he has. Instead, he is probably looking for that same affirming word from God.