Summary: I want to talk to you about the deadly sin of envy. We continue a seven-week series of sermons devoted to the Seven Deadly Sins.

Fights between brothers and sisters are common and often can be humorous. I collected a few stories that highlight just how funny sibling rivalry can be.

One young girl with two brothers who were around ten years older than her, taught her the alphabet in this order, “A,B,C,D,R,F,K.” It wasn’t until she arrived in kindergarten that she realized how her brothers had purposefully misled her.

Another sister reflecting on her childhood, remembered she used to bite her own arm and then start crying. All this was done in order to blame her brother. She recalled the whole experience by saying, “Sweet victory!”

Still another brother remembered the mischief he caused his sister: “When I was probably 7 or 8 [years old], my brothers and I thought it would be funny to tell my sister that the jalapeños in the garden were pickles and have her eat one.”

Last one, one sister told the story of the time when her boots were stuck in the mud: “When I was about five years old, I got my boots stuck in deep mud and [I] couldn’t move. After [she] unsuccessfully attempting to pull me out, my sister walked home to get help. I waited in the rain [and the mud] for an hour and no one came, so I pulled my feet out of the boots and walked home barefoot. When I got home I found my sister watching TV. She had apparently forgotten about me.”

Sibling rivalry can be humorous and even hilarious. Maybe you have your own stories. But envy between family members can be especially ugly.

The Sin of Envy

This morning I want to talk to you about the deadly sin of envy. We continue a seven-week series of sermons devoted to the Seven Deadly Sins. Now, you’ll NOT find a place in your Bibles where the seven are outlined in a “1, 2, 3” kind of order. Instead, these were problems many ancient Christians had when they lived in close quarters with one another.

Now all sin is deadly, but these seven are some of the biggest problems we can find in ourselves. A week ago, we looked at pride, the mob boss of toxic behaviors for families. And today, we explore the problem of envy. Envy is when I resent you for your success. Envy will rot your insides, the emotional walls of your heart.

Some of our greatest novels have feature sibling rivalry. Think of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden for a moment you will realize how a story of rivalry between siblings is powerful.

As we jump into the story of Numbers 12, the people of Israel have been cooling their heels at Mount Sinai for approximately one year. Our story comes around 1,400 years before Jesus, and it is finally time for Israel to leave for their next step toward the Promised Land. We are going to see a family squabble, and how remarkably unhealthy we can be, even if we follow the Lord.

Today’s Scripture

“Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. 2 And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. 3 Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. 4 And suddenly the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. 5 And the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward.

9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed. 10 When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. 11 And Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned. 12 Let her not be as one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother’s womb.” 13 And Moses cried to the Lord, “O God, please heal her—please.” 14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.” 15 So Miriam was shut outside the camp seven days, and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again. 16 After that the people set out from Hazeroth, and camped in the wilderness of Paran” (Numbers 12:1–5, 9-16).

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