Have you ever had someone not like you for no apparent reason? You never said anything one way of the other about the person, you never mistreated the person, as a matter of fact you even tried to be nice to the person but no matter what you did or did not do, the person simply did not like you. There’s a good chance that envy is at the root of the person’s problem. There is something you have that the other person wants. You may not have a clue to what it is.
Envy is one of those sins that the bible considers deadly, but we simply brush it to the side. We bring it with us to worship. That’s why we have to sing, “As we gather, may Your Spirit work within us.” Otherwise envy will be at work each time worship begins. If someone claps louder for another soloist or if someone says, wow that was a great song. Envy whispers, “your song was just as good why didn’t he say it about you.” Someone says, “He does an outstanding job as an usher.” Envy says, ‘you do just as good as a job, why does she play favorites.” Envy resents it when someone else gets more credit, more recognition, or more results than you do. It keeps us from rejoicing with those who rejoice.
Envy can begin with very innocent sounding statements. “I wish I could sing like she does.” I use to dance like that. Then they move to accusations. “Why can’t you be more like Janet’s husband.” “It’s just not fair, I know I deserved that promotion more than she did.” “Our church works just as hard as they do, why are they growing by leaps and bounds and we’re barely growing at all.”
What are some definitions of envy ; Webster’s Dictionary: Envy: “a feeling of antagonism towards someone because of some good which he is enjoying but which one does not have oneself. You’re upset because everything is just falling into place for them, but nothing is going the way you want it to go for you. You know they do not deserve what they’re getting.
Vine’s Theological Dictionary: “envy, is the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others; Your no good brother who feels like work is a disease, just won the lottery. Your friend who brags about everything, just got the most handsome boyfriend you ever seen.
Dr. Gary Collins (Homemade, July, 1985): To envy is to want something which belongs to another person. In other words…ENVY is saying… “I like what you’ve got, I don’t like the fact that you have it, and I want it”!!!
The bottom line is we think we should have what the other person has, whether it’s a position, a power, an authority, a blessing, or an item. Envy says that should have happened to me, or I somehow deserved to have it happen to me. Do you see how envy goes against the spirit of Jesus Christ. Envy thinks about self, and it leads to grumbling, complaining, murmuring, gossip, and death. Envy is Satan’s tool for wreaking havoc in the body of Christ.
Envy says that everyone is to be treated at or below my level of approval and my level of success. This means, nobody should get more than I get but it’s okay to get less. The sneaky thing about envy is that it is at times hard to tell the difference between envy, selfish ambition, and seeking God’s best for our lives. This is a struggle we all will have to go through because it’s not always a black and white issue.
Peter had asked Jesus, what will we get since we have left everything to follow you. Jesus says in Matthew 19:28 (NIV) “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “ Notice that Jesus said, you who have followed me, will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus you is inclusive of all those who give up everything to follow him, as we can see from the next verse. But what the disciples heard, was that the 12 of them would soon be sitting on twelve thrones ruling with Jesus. They are still thinking about this earthly kingdom Jesus is going to have. They have no concept at the time that Jesus is going to be killed in a few weeks.
Now they heard that Jesus was calling them to rule in this new kingdom. At what part does wanting the fulfillment of what Jesus said was going to happen begin to turn away from seeking God’s best for our lives to selfish ambition and envy. For instance if God spoke to you and said you would be a vital part of the church’s choir or of the church’s leadership team or of a company you worked for, or on a team you played for, how many of us would have heard God to say, we were going to be the super star in the choir, or get a top spot on the leadership team, or rise to prominence.
At the heart of envy is an anger toward God, because it seems to us as though God is playing favorites. God how dare you do that for them and not for us. God, How dare you treat me like this, when I have done so much for you!
God, Why on earth would you use my life in this way, when I could be making such a great impact for you over there? God why did you choose her and not me? Why did you make me look like this? Why did I have to have this family? Is there anyone here who just feels as though there are times when God just seems unfair? Envy keeps us from seeing how God has blessed us in the situation we are in. Somebody would love to be in your place or mine.
Can we humble ourselves to say, Lord I see the envy in me. Would your pour yourself into me, so that there is no longer any room for envy. If you want me to be such and such, I’m going to give it my best shot, but if you want me to stay right here where I am, I’ll give it my best and be content just as well. Just pour Yourself in me.