Why God takes envy so seriously

Thursday, November 15, 2012, Part 1

“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out. Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. Then He said, “Here now My words: if there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision, and I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses: he is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper.” (Numbers 12:1-10)

IDEA: God takes envy very seriously.

PURPOSE: To help listeners understand the seriousness of envy.

Why do we envy?

Where does it come from?

It comes from the differences in people. In life, some people are more gifted than others. Or some have positions others wish they had, or they exercise authority or power that ranks those just below them. This is just one of those inequities in life we all have to deal with.

How does envy feel?

What goes on inside us?

What do we do when we feel that someone a notch or two above us in gift or position or power shows us up in some way?

Can you think of times when that has happened to you?

All of us feel or have felt envy. But if it’s just part of the human condition, should we take it seriously?

I. God takes envy very seriously.

We see this in Numbers 12: God had chosen three members of one family—two brothers and a sister—to lead His people, Israel, out of Egypt to the Promised Land. At the outset, Miriam, Moses and Aaron worked closely together as a team, but after a time in the wilderness, Miriam and Aaron began to criticize their brother Moses:

At first they cared about his having married an Ethiopian woman (Numbers 12:1).

Then they turned to a different topic: “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” (Numbers 12:2).

Because Moses was too humble to deal with them, God took matters in hand and confronted them about their unacceptable envy of their brother.

Here are people in leadership. One is used more of God than the others. Clearly Moses did not provoke this incident. What went on in Aaron and Miriam that caused them to do this?

II. Why do you think God acted in such a dramatic way when this envy arose among His people?

Because of what it does to relationships.

It causes us to be critical of the person we envy, but in other areas.

Someone close to us has just a slight edge of advantage over us, and we want to cut that person down a notch or two with our carping or gossip or malice. Look at how Aaron and Miriam criticized Moses for his Ethiopian wife. If I envy you for your intelligence, I may not turn around and say, “She’s stupid.” Instead, I may say, “She has bad table manners.”