Defining envy and finding the biblical solution to this heart problem!

Monday, November 12, 2012

“But many who are first will be last, and the last first. For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’ So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they murmured against the landlord, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 19:30 – 20:16).

IDEA: We can overcome bitterness and resentment at God’s gracious dealings with others when we deal with God alone.

PURPOSE: To help listeners deal with envy of others.

If you were to describe envy, how would you describe it?

I. Where does envy come from?

It comes obviously from the differences there are among us.

How do we become envious?

What happens to us when we become envious?

We tend to look at what the other person has that we lack, or it comes from thinking another person has even more than we have.

We feel diminished when someone else can do something better than we can.

II. As Christians, how can we deal with envy?

Here’s a story that focuses on a very generous vineyard owner. Read the story found in Matthew 20:1-16.

The reaction of some of his workers was anger growing out of envy.

The owner asks a simple question: “Is your eye evil because I am good?” What’s the point of his question?

Deal with God alone.

The owner goes out of his way to make the point by paying the last first and the first last. As long as they deal with him alone, they’re in good shape. It’s in comparing their wage with the wage given to others that they get into trouble.

Remember that God owes you nothing,

If He owes you anything, He will pay you in full. But the point of this story is that God gives us what we don’t deserve.

Trust yourself to the generosity of God.

God’s nature is grace. He may not deal with you in the same way that He has dealt with others, but He will deal in a generous way with you and others.

Years ago when our son, Torrey, was ten or eleven, he came home early one Saturday afternoon from playing ball. His mother was frantically trying to get the house ready for company that evening. Without being asked, Torrey got out the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed the whole house. Bonnie told me about it when I got home. We usually paid the kids fifty cents for a job like that. When I asked Torrey what I owed him, he replied, “Dad, I just wanted to help.” I pulled out my wallet and gave him two dollars. He took it and said, “I like being in this family. You gave me more than I expected and more than the job was worth.” Torrey honored me more than he knew. Thirty years have passed and I’ve never forgotten it. I suppose I’ll take that memory to my grave. How wonderful to have a son who works because he loves you and takes your generosity for granted.