Summary: This is the 3rd devotion from a series entitled, 'Building Relationships that Last. This devotion is about how to overcome envy in our lives.
Building Relationships That Last
# 3 Eliminate Envy
In the second message in this series, we saw how the love that we show to others should be genuine and sincere. There is another aspect of this love which Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13:4, the point that “love does not envy”.
Let us look at some examples from the bible to understand the ill-effects that envy could have in our relationships with others.
Cain envied Abel
In the very first family that lived on earth, here’s what happened between two brothers. Cain and Abel the sons of Adam and Eve brought an offering to the Lord. While Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground, Abel brought an offering of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord respected Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s (Genesis 4:3-5). Something happened to Cain right away. His countenance fell and he became envious and angry toward his brother Abel. Though God warned Cain to be watchful of this evil attitude, Cain did not pay heed. Read Genesis 4:8, and we will realize that Cain probably spoke favorably to his brother Abel, got him to come with him to the field, and then did the most unimaginable thing - Cain murdered his own brother.
1 John 3:12, cautions us this way, “We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (ESV)
Strange as it may seem, Cain was actually envious of his brother Abel because he was righteous and he knew that he himself was evil. Cain could not accept the thought that God could see through and that He would approve of Abel’s offering and disapprove of the offering that he gave.
Joseph’s brothers envied him
There’s another young man Joseph who was also the target of his brother’s envy and bitterness. Read Genesis 37 to understand all that the brothers held against Joseph. The ten elder brothers of Joseph envied him for several reasons. Joseph was the favorite son of their father Jacob, he was gifted a fine tunic of many colors by his dad, and to top it all, Joseph had dreams that seemed to imply that he would rule over his brothers and that all of them would serve him one day. All of this was too much for these brothers to handle and this is what they did. They sold their own brother Joseph into slavery and lied to their father that he was mauled by a wild animal.
We read in Acts 7:9, “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him.”(NKJV)
Envy so blinded them that they could not even speak kindly to their brother and felt no remorse in treating him badly or selling him as a slave to strangers. Somehow, the brothers of Joseph perceived that God’s favor rested on him, and they thought they could, by their evil schemes thwart the plan of God in their brother’s life.
Envy among siblings can be a major issue. Often this begins in childhood and if left unchecked can become a cause for hatred and division in the family.
King Saul envied David
When Goliath, the Philistine warrior challenged the Israelites, the only one who had the courage to face him was young David. David was a simple shepherd boy but with God’s strength, he won an astounding victory over the Philistines. This made David become a hero in the eyes of all of Israel.
As David returned after his triumphant victory, he was greeted by the women, who danced and sang praises about David’s accomplishments this way. In 1 Samuel 18:6-7, we read, “When David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, playing songs of joy on timbrels. The women sang as they played, and said, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’”
King Saul who heard these refrains was devastated and his heart was filled with envy towards David. He could not bear the thought that David was becoming popular and that he would probably be the next king in his place.
This is what happened to King Saul from that very day. We read in 1 Samuel 18:9, “And so he was jealous and suspicious of David from that day on.” (GNB)
Saul was a restless man after this incident; he sought for every opportunity to kill David and spent the rest of his life in pursuit of him. What Saul failed to realize was the God’s hand was on David, and that all the envy and bitterness he held against David, could never prevail against him.