Discover what God’s Word says about envy

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in the past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

“Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:13-14).

IDEA: God doesn’t forbid envy to deny us pleasure but to guard our joy.

PURPOSE: To help listeners understand that envy destroys us as well as others.

Some people think of God as Someone who looks down at us from heaven and says, “Hey, there! If you’re having fun, cut it out!” (C.S. Lewis paraphrased.) Does it ever seem that way to you?

I. The Bible forbids us to envy others.

In half a dozen lists in the New Testament, God includes envy among serious sins like murder, adultery, strife, malice, drunkenness, etc. (Mark 7:21-23, Romans 1:29-31, 13:13-14, 1 Corinthians 3:3-8, Galatians 5:19-21, James 3:13-18, 1 Peter 2:1).

That makes it seem that envy is a serious sin. So what do we get from practicing it that makes us feel that it’s worth doing?

We have the power to destroy other people with our envy because it leads us to deeds and words that can maim and kill others.

So is God trying to keep us from “having fun” by exercising the “power” of envy?

II. God knows (far better than we) that envy will destroy us along with others.

Some researchers have found that envy can cause us to suffer upset stomachs, dizzy spells, headaches and ulcers. There is a physical price to pay for envy.

Mental health authorities tell us that envy affects our mental health. It doesn’t bring us what we lack; it merely makes us miserable.

Chrysostom wrote, “As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man.” An envious person is distorted and consumed by his or her envy.

III. God forbids envy because He wants to preserve our joy.

God isn’t “after” us to keep us from having fun.

He knows that envy is a dead-end street.

He calls us to “lay envy aside” (1 Peter 2:1) because it stunts our growth and keeps us from living fully and freely in His love and grace.