Summary: Let’s be honest – it’s in all of us. From the cradle to the grave envy’s in our hearts and you see it come to the surface in the things we think and say.
Exodus 20:7; Gen. 37
I want you to imagine two small town grocery store owners; two men who are bitter rivals. Their stores are right across the street from each other, and they spend each day with an eye on each other, keeping track of each other’s business. One gets a customer and he smiles in triumph at his rival. But when the other makes a sale he snarls with bitterness. Two grocery store owners: green with envy. But now imagine the story takes a twist, a turn of events that shows just how deep the envy runs. Say one of these men gets an opportunity like we see in the cartoons, to make a wish and it’ll be granted. But here’s the real twist, because here’s how the offer’s put to him: “I’ll give you anything you ask, but whatever you get, your competitor will get twice as much. Maybe you’d like to be massively rich? You’ll get it, but he’ll be twice as wealthy. Do you wish to live a long and healthy life? You can, but his life will be longer and healthier? What is your desire?” The man frowned, thought for a moment and then said, “Here’s my request … strike me blind in one eye”.
Proverbs 14:30 tells us that “A heart of peace gives life to the body but envy rots the bones,”. Resentment of others, jealousy of their success, envy – says God’s Word – rots the bones. In the last talk we saw that, just as surely as Eve gave birth to Cain, pride gave birth to anger as the proud heart becomes a destructive heart. But see how envy takes its place in the sin mixture, in Proverbs 27:4, “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy?” The Bible couldn’t sound a stronger warning—the sin of envy is deadly.
Let’s be honest – it’s in all of us. From the cradle to the grave envy’s in our hearts and you see it come to the surface in the things we think and say. ‘Its not fair, Tommy gets to stay up till 8 o’clock and I have to go to bed at 7:30, I wish I had his parents.’ ‘I wish I could look like she does, she’s so popular.’ ‘I wish I was a popular musician, I’d be appreciated more, like he is.’ ‘I see Bob’s got a new car, latest model! It must’ve cost him a bit – I wish I had the cash for that.’ ‘Now that’s a job I could handle: short hours, long holidays – he gets money for nothing while I work myself to death.’ ‘Why can’t you be more like Rita’s husband? He’s so caring and a good handyman – he’s well… useful!’ ‘Everything seems to be so easy for them, God seems to bless them so much, it doesn’t seem fair.’
Envy you see, perhaps more than we realize, is deep in our hearts and we need to come to God’s Word today to cut it out. God’s word warns us that “where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16). God’s word challenges us not to “become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Gal 5:26). But how can we do that? How can we die to our envy and really change?
An article from the newspaper I read awhile back was all about envy. The article was called “taming the green-eyed monster” and it said that ‘jealousy can burn you up: these tips will help you cope’. The article is all about feeling better about yourself. Is that it? Thinking positive thoughts about ourselves? Or is there a better way to deal with envy? Well, only God’s word takes us to the heart of the problem, to where our envy comes from. And only God’s Word takes us to the real solution, and how we can really deal with envy.
I. The Problem
• Where does our envy come from?
o Last week, we say pride born in Genesis 3 with Adam and Eve.
o This quickly spread to anger in Genesis 4 with Cain and Abel.
o And this spreads to envy by Genesis 37 with Joseph and his brothers.
• Last week on an overseas channel via the satellite they had a news report about a runaway train?
o This train got going with no driver and without a driver; it was out of control, destructive.
• That’s what we’re seeing here in Genesis with the effects of sin.
o Sin has made the entire world like a runaway train.
o God was meant to be the driver of our lives but we’ve ejected him and thought we’d take the driver’s seat.
o Here we’re seeing that we’re hopeless drivers of this world.