wash n' word
As I prepared this, I read several others sermons about envy and man they were so much better then mine; I wish mine was like theirs. I wish I had what they had. I wish I could preach like them. Hmph, I hope their tithing goes down and people leave their church. (writing that hoping my readers have grown accustomed to my sense of humor).
I was trying to think of a good example about envy while driving the other day. Pulling up to a 4 way stop the lady in the Lexus felt she deserved to go first even though others were there before her, to wit I replied, “After you money bags”. I had my “envy” opener.
Envy--why is this such a “deadly” sin? So I want something someone else has, is that so wrong? Personally, envy is not something I typically struggle with. There is a cure or virtue that will combat envy and that is hope, but perhaps contentment keeps envy in check just as much.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
God is not a God of disorder. Envy is ungodly at least; destructive at worst. Envy is defined as a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions. Envy is the desire for others' traits, status, abilities, or situation.
Dante defined envy as "love of one's own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs.”
In Dante's “Purgatory”, the punishment for the envious is to have their eyes sewn shut with wire, because they have gained sinful pleasure from seeing others brought low.
In J.R.R Tolkien’s, Lord of the Rings, Envy transformed Gollum into a
Envy is closely to greed/jealousy/coveting inasmuch as they desire something one does not have. But greed/jealousy/coveting seeks just the object, while envy tends to dislike the one who has it and wish ill will upon them.
Envy is advertising’s major strategy deployment. But there was no advertising in biblical times. Worse envy than monetary gain has to do with personal relationships.
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
The sin of envy is best described as a virus. Eating from inside out.
“Envy is the ulcer of the soul”
(Am I the only one that still pronounces his name as sew-crates thanks to Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure? Though so!)
“Envy is like a fly that passes all the body’s sounder parts, and dwells upon the sores.”
The one thing about this sin is that it is not limited to resentment. We often attribute envy to what others have or can do, but what about rejoicing? How often do we rejoice at the fall or misfortune of the one we envy?
This is where envy differs. It doesn’t just desire what someone else has, it is also rejoicing in what they may not have. Yes, it is a deadly internal virus showing up in resent and rejoice.
The Bible provides many examples of envy: Cain envied Abel so he killed him; (his second sin sandwiched between pride and murder). Jacob’s sons envied Joseph, so they hated him and sold him into slavery. King Saul envied David so he threw a spear at him. Miriam and Aaron envied Moses and spoke ill of him. It is as if every time envy appears in the Bible, we see deception, destruction, violence and jealousy. Envy is bad, but it is the result of envy that does the most damage.
And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Labor and achievement is never fruitful when its foundation is envy.
That goes for ministry as well. Our motivation should always be for the
benefit of others.
Dwight L. Moody once told the fable of an eagle that was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a sportsman with a bow and arrow and said to him, “I wish you would bring down that eagle up there.” The man said he would if he had some feathers for his arrow. So the jealous eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival bird because he was flying too high. The first eagle pulled out another feather, then another—until he had lost so many that he himself couldn’t fly. The archer took advantage of the situation, turned around, and killed the helpless bird.
Envy of another has no effect upon the envied but will destroy the envious
We are all guilty of envy in some ways, especially you ladies…c’mon you know. You are always checking out other women and are either prideful of what you have, or envious of what they have. Guys do it too but it is more materially focused re: house, car, job, wife etc.
Unlike many of the others, I do not have to show you subtle ways it creeps in like I did with pride. I don’t have to show you that envy shows up in various things we may not have thought, like I did with gluttony. No, envy is easily recognized. It does not creep in. It is not subtle. It is not disguised. It is ugly and obvious.
Some things that envy affects in our lives
1. Living up to our potential-- to focus on another’s _______ (fill in the blank) limits our execution of what we are capable of doing.
2. Nullifies love, peace and happiness--it is virtually impossible to envy and love the same person at the same time. It robs us of our happiness, joy, and peace.
3. Causes anger, frustration and rage-- Many times at God. “Why do they prosper?” said Jonah. Elijah bellowed, “Am I the only prophet left” Said the prodigals son’s brother, “Why should he get to come back?” rage-ville is only a short drive from envy-town.
4. Affects our relationships-- with God, with family, with strangers. Have you ever despised or disliked someone you had not even met because you envy them. If I’m honest (and if you are too guys) we envy the likes of Brad Paisley, Tom Brady or Ryan Tannehill. Etc. Like any of us ever stood a chance.
5. Our ability to be content--we cannot enjoy what we have while wanting that which we do not have. It is hard to enjoy the old version of Madden 16 football when you know 17 is on the shelves at Wal-Mart. The apostle Paul said he “learned the secret of contentment” Many of us are still learning.
6. Cripples Spiritual growth--we cannot grow spiritually if we covet or
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
It is this last one that actually feeds envy. Spiritually mature people do not battle with envy. The longer you walk with God, the more you get to know God’s nature. The longer you walk with God, the more you know that God does not play favorites. The longer you walk with God, the more you realize that your lot at this point in your life is what God has ordained for you.
Envy destroys your contentment. It’s like putting your finger into a glass of soda you just poured to keep it from flowing over. Uneasy, unhappy non-contented people are in no position to receive from God. And if you are in no position to receive from God you cannot grow spiritually. And if you cannot grow spiritually then guess what? Envy will set in.
That complaining and wishing for more is a serious slap in the face of God. It’s like telling him you know what is better for you then He does. It would be like calling Bill Gates for help about a problem with your computer—and he says, “Here’s what you do…” and you reply, “No that won’t work, I’m going to…”
Many of you know the prayer of serenity. While not biblical in word, it is biblical in concept. It begins with--
1) “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”
It is upon acceptance of a thing that God usually changes that thing. I can’t tell you how many times that when I finally accepted something for the way it was, it was only then God changed it. God saved Esther only after she proclaimed “if I perish, I perish.” Daniel was saved from the lions because he accepted his potential fate. Daniels friends accepted death by furnace and then were saved from the flame.
When F. B. Meyer was pastoring Christ Church in London, Charles Spurgeon was preaching at Metropolitan Tabernacle, and G. Campbell Morgan was at Westminster Chapel. Meyer said, “I find in my own ministry that supposing I pray for my own little flock, ‘God bless me, God fill my pews, God send my a revival,” I miss the blessing; but as I pray for my big brother, Mr. Spurgeon, on the right-hand side of my church, ‘God bless him’; or my other big brother, Campbell Morgan, on the other side of my church, ‘God bless him’; I am sure to get a blessing without praying for it, for the overflow of their cups fills my little bucket.”
2) Courage to change the things I can--
There is nothing wrong with wanting more, being more or desiring more, especially when it comes to spiritual things. Just don’t desire, want, or covet someone else’s gain. God has for you a lifetime worth of blessings, gifts, talents, abundance, missions, ministry etc. Instead of wishing for a promotion, work harder. Instead of wanting to be as smart as that other guy, educate yourself.
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
I think the problem is we, people, generally have a low self esteem and image of ourselves. We need to remember who we are. That Christ died for you. How worthless and low can you possibly be if this is the case?
"There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy."
There are things about your life and the world that you can change and there are things you cannot.
3. Wisdom to know the difference--
Know what you can and cannot change. Know your worth, your value to God. This aids us in our fight against envy. If I can discern when to accept situations and when to change them, I am above envy. Gamaliel said,
Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."
For many years Sir Walter Scott was the leading literary figure in the British Empire. No one could write as well as he. Then the works of Lord Byron began to appear, and their greatness was immediately evident. Soon an anonymous critic praised his poems in a London Paper. He declared that in the presence of these brilliant works of poetic genius, Scott could no longer be considered the leading poet of England. It was later discovered that the unnamed reviewer had been none other than Sir Walter Scott himself!
The cure for envy is to realize that there will always be someone smarter, richer, funnier, prettier (except for you my beautiful wife), better, etc. than you. The cardinal virtue that best combats envy is hope.
Hope (kindness, faith,)
It comes from the Latin word “spes” meaning the desire for something and expectation of receiving it.
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
Hope is very closely related to faith--who has faith in what is seen?
Hope or faith is not wishing. It is more like resting. Resting in the fact of that which is desired, will be attained through God’s provision. You should stop here and go read Romans 8.
Hoping the Miami Dolphins will actually win this year is hope stemming from passion. But virtuous hope stems from will and knowledge. Hoping for what we do not have yet knowing we will get it. that is hope, the virtue.
The cure for most sins is to do the extreme opposite. If you stole, pay it
back and then give above that to someone else.
Zacchaeus in Luke 19 was so convicted by Jesus he not only vowed to pay back to others what he has taken from them, but 4 times the amount. If you have been mean, be nice. If you have torn down, then build up. To cure wanting to take someone else possessions or seeing them brought down is to be kind to them. Pray for them. Be happy for them.
A Christian hopes in what mainly? Eternal life! Heaven! This hope, this knowledge accompanied by faith and acted out in acts of kindness is envy proof. Who can envy while doing acts of kindness knowing they are heaven bound? When we hope in eternity, people will want to know what our secret of contentment and peace is--then we tell them it’s all because of Jesus.
At first I did not see the connection hope had with envy--but at the end of hope, when hope is gone, at the bottom of the barrel, when all we can do is look to what may have been or could have been, it is there envy instantly sets in. Hope is the key. A lack of hope leads to envy.
A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope
Eternal security is the one thing no one can take away, it is the one thing that you should desire and it is the one thing you already have.