Sometimes I Am Full of Envy

Sometimes I Am Full of Envy

In the Christian Church there is a standard list of deadly sins

The list was first compiled by Pope Gregory the first around the year 600

            • Lust – 2 Timothy 2:22
            • Gluttony – 1 Corinthians 10:31
            • Greed – Hebrews 13;15
            • Sloth – Proverbs 6:6 (excessive laziness)
            • Wrath – Romans 12:19
            • Pride – Jeremiah 9:23-24
            • Envy – Proverbs 14:30

Today we will be looking at the last one – “ENVY”

The Ten Commandments were given at Mt. Sinai around 1450 B.C. so these are still the Oldest foundational moral commandments that Christian hold to

However, the seven deadly sins are biblical but nowhere do they appear as a list in the Bible

There is a list of seven deadly sins in the Bible and they are found in Proverbs 6:16-19 where it states, “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him…”

        1. A proud look,
        2. A lying tongue,
        3. Hands that shed innocent blood,
        4. A heart that devises wicked plans,
        5. Feet that are swift in running to evil,
        6. A false witness who speaks lies,
        7. One who sows discord among brethren.

The Bible also lists other sins we need to be on our guard about… Galatians 5:19-21

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Pope Gregory also produced a list of the Seven Virtues in the year 600 based on a poem written by a believer named Aurelius Clemens Prudentius written in the early 400’s

Each one is a cure for one of the Seven Deadly Sins

      1. Kindness = cures envy by placing the desire to help others above the need to supersede them.
      1. Temperance = cures gluttony by implanting the desire to be healthy, therefore making one fit to serve others.
      1. Charity or love = cures greed by putting the desire to help others above storing up treasure for one’s self.
      1. Chastity or self-control = cures lust by controlling passion and leveraging that energy for the good of others.
      1. Humility = cures pride by removing one’s ego and boastfulness, therefore allowing the attitude of service.
      1. Diligence or Zeal = cures slothfulness by placing the best interest of others above the life of ease and relaxation.
      1. Patience = cures wrath by taking time to understand the needs and desires of others before acting or speaking.

[These are posted in more detail as separate documents on www.ralphhoweministries.com under the names: “Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Virtues” and “The Seven Deadly Sins Explained”]

Let’s look at “Envy”

At one time or another, all of us want what others have that we don’t – Envy

We compare where we stand in the world with where we see others – Envy

We see what others look like and wish we should be that handsome or beautiful  

This comparison can be on many levels

            • Physical appearance
            • Financial wealth
            • Family 
            • Friendships
            • House 
            • Car 
            • Boat 
            • Country home

Envy comes from the old French word envied, which in turn originated in the Latin word invidia, which means:

“To look upon with malice or resentment”

Other words that come close to the word “envy” include:

        • Discontentment
        • Dissatisfaction
        • Covetousness
        • Jealousy

DEFINITION: ENVY is when you resent God’s goodness in other people’s lives and ignore God’s goodness in your own life.

DEFINITION: “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own” (Harold Coffin)

It is when you think, “They’ve got it and I want it. They don’t even deserve it. They shouldn’t have it in the first place.!”

Our consumer culture thrives on envy

      • You want the latest edition of your favourite phone
      • A new car with leather interior that can park itself and all the other new bells and whistles
      • A new house in a better neighbourhood
      • An exotic vacation destination away from the deep freeze in winter

If we took every ad and commercial seriously, we’d never have one moment of satisfaction in our lives

We would never enjoy what we have because we’d always be wanting what someone else has

Or, what the advertising tells us we should have and definitely need

If we are going to experience a clean, spiritual way of living, then like the apostle Paul we must learn to be “content in all things”

We must learn to recognize envy in all its forms and have the antidote for its deadly poison close at hand

Envy takes on a variety of forms:

      • We usually connect it to materialism — money, possessions, toys
      • It can be wanting a better job with higher pay like the other guy
      • Technology – the newest, biggest, brightest, clearest TV 
      • Appearance envy – size, shape, their hair, complexion 
      • Relational envy – someone who always seems to have friends who encourage and build them up and do fun things together

You know what I envy?

People who have weekends off – especially long weekends

Did you know that every long weekend has a Sunday in the middle of it?

People whose jobs start at eight and end at five o’clock

How about you?

Who do you envy the most?

Have you ever wished you had something or someone that you saw others enjoying?

We don’t think that it really that big a deal when we want a little bit of something we don’t have

I mean, everyone does it – So, what the big deal?

The big deal is that allowing envy into your heart is like planting nuclear waste in your flowerbed

If you don’t think envy is a serious problem, just consider what Scripture has to say about it

James 3:14-16 NLT “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 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.”

So this issue of being dissatisfied with what you have and instead wanting what others have isn’t a big deal? Really?

“Every evil practice” sounds like a profoundly big deal to me

We can find plenty of examples of envy throughout the Bible

Genesis 4 … Cain envied his brother Abel

God accepted Abel’s offering but he didn’t accept Cain’s

As a result of his envy, Cain’s resentment festered into a poison possessing his heart and driving him to murder his brother

Genesis 30 … Rachel envied her sister Leah because Leah could bear children and she couldn’t

Then later in the same chapter, they switched places, and it was Leah who envied Rachel

Genesis 37 … Joseph’s brothers envied him because Joseph was his father’s favourite, and he kept having dreams and visions in which his brothers were bowing down to him

But instead of bowing, they decided it sounded like a better idea to beat him up, throw him in a pit, and sell him into slavery

1 Samuel 18 we are told that King Saul envied David, the shepherd boy turned warrior

The people made up a song with a not-so-sweet refrain about how Saul had slain his thousands but David his tens of thousands

Saul’s jealousy, rooted in envy, eventually drove him crazy, literally, and he tried to pin David to the wall with his spear — twice 

Mark 15 … we find that Jesus Himself was the subject of envy

Why was He handed over to the Roman authorities to be crucified?

Because the chief priests envied Him

Jealousy, rage, bitterness, murder, and heart-wrenching grief — all emerging from the toxic power of envy

CONSIDER THIS: In Isaiah 14, Lucifer (the devil) is said to have envied God, and consequently he rebelled and was cast out of Heaven.

We would do well to remember that envy is clearly the spark that ignites evil in our hearts

It apparently signals, “I’m available” to demons searching for a cheap date

Envy is as volatile as nitroglycerin, and we cannot carry it inside without evil exploding

Proverbs 14:30 tells us that “a heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Socrates, the philosopher, elaborates on this truth. He wrote,

“Envy is the daughter of pride, the author of murder and revenge, the perpetual tormentor of virtue. Envy is the filthy slime of the soul, a venom, a poison which consumes the flesh and dries up the bones. It rots like cancer from the inside.”

So now we know it’s earthly, unspiritual, and demonic to envy

What can we do about it?

The first thing is actually something that we can start NOT doing

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, writes, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV)

Envy begins with comparison – so stop comparing

And it is so easy, almost natural, to compare what we have (or don’t have) with those around us

And we all, at one time or another, compare what we have with what others have…

No one is immune

In fact, Jesus’ disciples were often comparing themselves with one another

Who is the most important?

Who gets to sit next to Jesus?

Who’s the greatest?

In John, chapter 21, Jesus has just restored Peter’s position with Him, commissioning him to “take care of My sheep.”

He prophesies about the kind of death Peter will die, and Peter asks, “What about John? What’s going to happen to him?”

Jesus answers, “What is that to you?”

Essentially, Jesus was saying, “Peter, that is simply not your business! Stop comparing!”

When we look at other people comparatively (competitively) we are not seeing them as our brothers and sisters

We are not loving them more than we love ourselves

We are definitely not seeing them as God sees them

Galatians 6:4-5 “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”

This is what we are not to do … 

You need to guard against comparing yourself with others as much as possible

Train yourself not to use “better than” and “worse than” when thinking and talking about other people

When we see God’s goodness in the lives of others, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel resentful or envious

That is what we are not to do … but what is it we are to do?

When we see God’s goodness in the lives of others, we should feel joy

We should celebrate with them

Romans 12:15 teaches us that we should “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

When someone else gets something we were hoping for, you should rejoice with them

I think one of the best examples of this in Scripture is between Saul’s son Jonathan and his friend David

Earlier I talked about King Saul envying David

Well, that same king had a son, Jonathan

David and Jonathan were best friends

By all earthly rights, Jonathan should have been the heir to his father’s throne

For most of Jonathan’s youth, he probably fully expected, maybe even dreamed about, how one day he would become king

Of course, if you know the story, God had other plans

Saul sinned, and God chose David to replace Saul as Israel’s king, not Jonathan

Most of us, if we were in Jonathan’s position, would be angry – Not Jonathan

Even when Saul was crazy with jealous rage, hunting David down to kill him. Jonathan took David’s side

In fact, look what Jonathan said to David

1 Samuel 23:17 “Don’t be afraid … my father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you.”

He was telling David, “I’ll serve you. I’ve got your back. I rejoice with you in your success. You’ve got what really was mine, and what I wanted, but God had something else planned. More power to you, man. I celebrate with you.”

So Jonathan was “rejoicing with those who rejoice”

Instead of resenting the blessing God was giving to David, He celebrated with David and celebrating other’s blessings help us to defeat envy

Ecclesiastes 6:9 says, “Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

This is telling us:

God has put blessings right in front of us

And yet it is easy to let our appetites roam and then we miss the blessings we already have

But when you let your eyes wander, looking for something else, you might as well be chasing the wind

It is better to enjoy what God has given you than to look around to see whose grass is greener

It is easy to always look for more and not be content with what you have

My mentor taught me: “Content or discontent – which tent do you live in?”

Unless you have one of everything on the planet, then there is always somebody who has something you don’t

Theirs may be newer

Theirs may be bigger

Theirs may be shinier

But, if you notice that, it means you are making comparisons … which we saw earlier is not a good thing

What about what God has already given you?

Are you grateful for the things you do have?

I used to have a really bad habit that I now believe was insulting to God

I still have to work not to do it even today

I would qualify my thankfulness with a big “but”

If someone said, “I really like your flower garden” I would say “Thank you, but it is not as nice as I had hoped it would be”

If someone said, “I really like your house,” then I said something like, “Yup. Its great, we love it, but we really need to redo the kitchen”

As I constantly did this … God’s Spirit convicted me that I needed to get rid of the big buts

“I am thankful for the house that God has provided for us.” Period.

“Thank you for the compliment regarding the garden.” Period.

I recommend that you do the same; get rid of your big buts

Be thankful

No more buts

Embrace God’s goodness to you

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

If you’re in Christ Jesus (born again), there’s your answer

Be thankful. Be satisfied. Be content in all circumstances

One way to appreciate all that we have is to spend time with people who are truly grateful for and joyful about all that they have

And if it is less than we have, (as is the case with my friends overseas), it can be very humbling

A pastor friend of mine writes:

When I first became a pastor there was a six-year old girl in our church who was dying

We prayed and prayed for her, but she continued to get worse

Near the end, I went to visit this precious little girl in the hospital

Her treatments had taken her hair, her colour, and the last of her strength

I did the pastor thing, making small talk with her and her parents, trying to smile a lot and lift their spirits, and praying with them

But I felt so helpless. Finally I said, “Sweetheart, what do you want? Anything. You name it. If there’s anything at all I can do for you or get for you, please just name it, and it’s yours.” 

For a moment, she just locked eyes with me and didn’t say anything, like she was deep in thought.

As I waited for her answer, I couldn’t help thinking of all the things she might have been dreaming about in the past weeks: 

Playing with other kids? 

Going to a movie with her friends?

Going home?

Just taking a walk outside?

This tiny six-year-old girl drew a deep breath and sighed

Then she said, “Well, I got my mommy and daddy here. I’ve got my two favourite sticker books. I’ve got my dolly, and I’ve got Jesus in my heart. What else could a little kid want?”

Just a few weeks later, I did that little girl’s funeral.

But that moment at the hospital will resonate with me for as long as I live

I don’t know how your story goes, but here’s mine:

I get to serve the greatest God, the Creator and Builder of the universe

I get to do it full time

I get to love and share His truth with the greatest people around the world, and that is my calling

I get to work with the Holy Spirit expanding the Kingdom into spiritually dark places on the planet 

I get to see people come to know the Lord Jesus and become born again

I get to disciple, train, equip and mentor young apostles and prophets in 17 nations of the world with new doors opening weekly should I ever choose to enter them

I have several very good friends who are an amazing support and encouragement to me

I’ve got Jesus Christ, the living Son of the almighty God, dwelling inside me

I know that when I die I will instantly be in Heaven and be looking at Jesus face-to-face

What more could any guy want?

I hope you can celebrate God’s goodness in the lives of others

And that you can defeat envy in all of its forms by embracing God’s goodness to you

Jesus is truly enough for our heart’s desire.