The word “envying” or “envyings” appears ten times in the Book of Mormon. Nine of those times, it is followed immediately by “strife” or “strifes.” These words are also closely associated in the New Testament.
To envy another person is to resent them because of the perception that they have something that you lack. A recognition of the other person’s superiority is the first step. But it does not become envy until it is coupled with a feeling of unfairness. When we believe that the other person doesn’t deserve their good fortune, or when we think we have been unjustly denied the same good fortune, we begin to feel animosity toward them. This animosity is envy, and it leads to contention or strife.
Ezra Taft Benson identified envy as a form of pride: “Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up” (“Beware of Pride,” General Conference, April 1989).
No wonder the writers of the Book of Mormon associated envy with strife:
And thus, in this eighth year of the reign of the judges, there began to be great contentions among the people of the church; yea, there were envyings, and strife, and malice, and persecutions, and pride, even to exceed the pride of those who did not belong to the church of God (Alma 4:9).
Your hearts are not drawn out unto the Lord, but they do swell with great pride, unto boasting, and unto great swelling, envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions, and murders, and all manner of iniquities (Helaman 13:22).
Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes (3 Nephi 30:2).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has pointed out that envy causes us unnecessary grief:
Envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! (“The Laborers in the Vineyard,” General Conference, April 2012).
Today, I will celebrate others’ successes and not indulge in envy. I will believe that God loves all of His children, and that He will bless me as He has blessed other people. I will remember that envy leads to strife, and that I must avoid it if I want to maintain positive relationships with other people.