Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (1 Peter 2:1-3).

IDEA: The Bible can cleanse us from envy.

PURPOSE: To encourage listeners to expose themselves to Scripture as a means of dealing with envy.

Why do we feed babies? Toddlers? Older children?

As parents, we want our children to grow and to thrive. We know that good food is important to their health and well-being. It's necessary to their growth and to developing strong bones and muscles.

The analogy to growth in the Christian life is obvious, but sometimes we overlook it. The Bible feeds us and makes us strong.

I. How does the Bible help us deal with a deadly sin like envy?

The Bible gives us God's perspective on envy.

We learn that God sees envy as a destructive force:

"Where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there" (James 3:16).

"Envy is rottenness to the bones" (Proverbs 14:30).

"Envy enrages a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance" (Proverbs 6:34).

The Bible also gives us a perspective on God's wisdom and power.

Do we really believe that God knows what is best for us?

Do we believe that God is able to do what is best for us?

Do we believe that God cares enough to do what is best for us?

The Bible gives us a perspective of God that makes a huge difference in our evaluation of what we have and what we think we lack.

The Bible also gives us a perspective on this life and on eternity.

From Scripture we understand the shortness of this life ("All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever" (1 Peter 1:24-25).

We accept "inequities" in this life as temporal and thus temporary.

We understand that only the eternal matters.

II. What difference does this make?

As we take in the Word of God, we begin to see the littleness, the meanness of envy in the light of God's great and loving power in our lives.

This insight will cause us to want to lay aside this serious sin, as Peter has instructed us to do (1 Peter 2:1)

Then we will discover that the God of all grace can give us the strength to praise others and rejoice in their successes.

Review of steps in dealing with envy:

  • Recognize the futility of envy.
  • Accept God's evaluation of what is best for each of us.
  • Understand that increased gifts means increased responsibility.
  • Replace envy with love, the hallmark of the Christian.
  • Expose ourselves to Scripture and let it cleanse us from envy.