Discover the destruction envy can cause in our heart, and our relationships

Wednesday, November 14, 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 overcome envy by thinking of what it would mean to change places with another person. Negatively, it means that I don’t know all the secrets of another person’s life. Positively, it means I’d be happy with a full paycheck for an hour’s work.

PURPOSE: To help listeners deal with envy.

How do you deal with envy? For some people it can become a dominant mood in their lives.

I. In the parable in Matthew 20:1-16, when the people who were paid last looked at the people who were paid first, do you think they envied them?

What did they envy and why?

Do you think that when those men got together the next morning down in the center of town, that they still had warm feelings toward one another as they had had the previous day? What does envy do?

If those early workers could have suggested a remedy for the situation, what might it have been? They wanted more or they would have been just as happy if the others had been paid less.

II. We usually envy some particular thing in the other person: a talent, a gift, looks, money, etc. If you’re afflicted with envy, then think of trading places with that person, not just for the thing you envy (her voice, his big office, etc).

If you’re going to trade places, you have to trade everything. What might that involve?

III. Look at the benefits of trading places in helping you with envy.

If the men who had worked the whole day had thought about trading places with these other men, they would have been delighted at the generosity of the owner.

By not trading places, they ended up with an antagonistic attitude toward their fellow workers, and a destructive attitude inside themselves.

As long as the issue is simply one of how long they had to work in order to receive a denarius, then these workers missed the generosity of the owner.

You need to take a look at how much is in your own pay envelope. When you look at your neighbor, then ask God to pour His generosity onto your neighbor because He is that kind of God. When you see that happen, consciously thank God for His goodness, both to you and to your neighbor.