In 590 AD, Pope Gregory the Great wrote, "From envy arises hatred. joy at our neighbor's misfortune, and grief for his prosperity," [ CITATION Tar09 l 1033 ]. He also named envy a deadly sin along with pride, greed, anger, lust, sloth, and gluttony. The Christian faith teaches that to indulge in envy is to tempt eternal damnation. In contrast, members of the Jewish faith believe envy can motivate growth, and it only becomes a sin when envious people seek to take what the other person has. These contrasting religious views may result from two different kinds of envy: one benign and one malicious. Envy is a distinct emotion; it can spur progress, but it can also consume a person with resentment.
The meaning of the words envy and jealousy are frequently confused, but they are different and distinct emotions. Envy involves two people, and it focuses on competition with a rival. The envious person's center of concern is the rival, not the object of envy. Jealousy, on the other hand, involves three people, including a jealous person, a rival, and a person whose affection the jealous person fears losing. The jealous person's center of concern is the person they fear losing, not the rival. Webster's New World Dictionary describes envy as a feeling of discontent and ill will because of another's advantages, possessions, etc., and resentful dislike of another who has something that one desires, [CITATION Pre94 p 455 n y t l 1033 ]. Benign envy may inspire personal growth and achievement. For example, a group of workers may experience envy when one worker earns a promotion to a more prestigious position. The workers may use benign envy as motivation. If they take stock of their current personal performance and make changes to improve their effectiveness, they will be using envy to trigger progress. If instead the workers were content in their relative positions, there would be no envy, but there would also be no personal growth or new achievement.