A tragic illustration of the seriousness of envy

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have gotten a man from the Lord.’ Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’ Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ And he said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And God said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.’ And Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold’” (Genesis 4:1-16).

IDEA: Envy has the power to turn us into killers.

PURPOSE: To help listeners understand why we cannot ignore or downplay the sin of envy.

Have you known many ministers who had to leave the ministry because of some great sin?

What sins come to mind?

Do you know anyone who was ever forced to leave the ministry because of envy?

Is envy really a serious sin? On the surface, it doesn’t appear to be serious.

So does the Bible overstate the case when it lists envy along with drunkenness, orgies, hatred, etc., as acts of our sinful nature that must be dealt with?

I. Envy can push us to the ultimate human crime of murder.

History is filled with conspiracies by those who wanted the prominence or power that another enjoyed:

Julius Caesar lost his life (on the Ides of March) at the hands of his two most trusted friends.

Shakespeare has given the English language powerful dramas of envy leading to murder, such as MacBeth.

Herod the Great stopped at nothing to insure his throne, murdering one of his wives and several of his sons. Through envy he ordered the Slaughter of the Innocents in case the wise men’s tale of a new king in Israel was true.

The first biblical record of murder prompted by envy is found in Genesis 4:1-16.

Eve’s firstborn son, Cain, envied his brother Abel’s standing with God. Cain had brought a grain offering to God and Abel a blood offering. Abel’s offering was acceptable and Cain’s offering was not. Cain’s envy drove him to murder his brother.

From Hebrews 11:4 we understand that God accepted Abel’s offering and not Cain’s because Cain lacked a right disposition toward God.

Sin throughout Scripture is a wrong attitude toward God and His commands. It is any attitude of indifference, unbelief, or disobedience to the will of God.

Sin is resistance to God and a refusal to walk in His light. Cain displeased God and when God challenged him, he rose up against his brother who pleased God.

Jude warns of apostates from the Christian faith who “have gone in the way of Cain” (Genesis 4:11).

II. God understands and warns us about the danger of envy to drive us to terrible crimes.

In Proverbs 6:34, Solomon observed that “envy enrages a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance.” Envy is a major sin because it insidiously pushes us to any end to achieve our purpose.

In Proverbs 14:30 we read that “envy is rottenness to the bones.” It eats at us down to the core of our skeletal being. It so impairs us that we stop at nothing to rid ourselves of someone we hate.