Summary: Envy is an emotion that refuses to recognize the goodness of God. Envy is telling God that God could have done a better job with us.

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Envy is Not Pretty

I Samuel 18:6-9

February 9, 2005

Ash Wednesday

I love music. All kinds of music. If you look through my CD collection, you will find Contemporary Christian, Country, Classic Rock, Opera, Broadway Show Tunes, and Classical. I like Willie Nelson, George Strait, The Beatles, Bon Jovi, Chicago, Michael W. Smith, and Beethoven. I just love music.

Music is what got me through High School. I wasn’t a great student; had too much other stuff on my mind, mostly a twirler with long brown hair named Toni. But I loved music and my tenor sax. I was in marching band, pep band, concert band, and jazz band (played a solo at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in 1971). I still have a cassette tape of that. I lived for band.

One of the things that I have never been able to understand is why I can’t sing. I really have an awful voice. I’m tone deaf, but I love to sing. I sing in the shower. I sing in the car when I am alone. I sing while I’m mowing the lawn. I just don’t sing around other people because I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

I sometimes can’t understand God. I can’t figure out why God instilled in me such a love of music, but didn’t give me a voice. I just can’t understand. I don’t need a great solo voice. I would settle for a passable voice which would be good enough for a choir. But God seems to have shortchanged me in that department.

I find that I am often envious of those who can sing. I watch and listen to people sing and wish I could do that. It looks like so much fun. I can’t imagine how great it would be to have what my wife calls “the bedroom voice” of Barry White. I would love to be Jimmy Buffett of Margaritaville fame (by the way, we went into his bar in Jamaica last summer. In case you‘re wondering, we didn‘t have any booze…didn‘t even buy a t-shirt). I would love to be Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, or Kenny Rodgers, or Placido Domingo, or Tony Bennett, or Alan Jackson. I wouldn’t mind being able to sing like Al, or Ralph, or Chris, or Kenny, or any of the rest of you guys in the choir. I honestly do envy those who can sing.

Envy is not pretty. Maxie Dunnam, retired President of Asbury Theological Seminary, says that envy is the sin that no one confesses. We will confess to being proud, for example. Jimmy Carter confessed to lusting in his heart. We might as well confess to the sin of anger because it is so easy to see. But envy…that’s another story. That one is so hard to admit. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.”

If I could again quote Maxie Dunnam: “Envy is the sin of the evil eye. It always sees and desires what it doesn’t have. Its punishment is that it will never have what it sees and desires, because there will always be more to see than to possess.”

If you want to talk about the biblical chronology, envy is the second sin. The first was pride which led to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Envy came next and resulted in the murder of Cain by his brother Abel.

Paul writes to the Galatians and says this: The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. (Galatians 5:19-21).

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul is talking about God’s punishment of humankind because of their disobedience. He says this. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil, they disobey their parents, they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Romans 1:28-31).

Can I be honest with you for a minute? I’ll admit that I am envious of Luciano Pavarotti. But somehow, that doesn’t seem to be in the same league of sins as witchcraft, drunkenness, orgies, murder, depravity, debauchery, fits of rage, heartlessness, or ruthlessness. But there it is in black and white in the Bible. I guess that I am really in more trouble than I realize.

King Saul was the leader of the nation of Israel. The book of I Samuel tells us about him. There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish…He had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else. (I Samuel 9:1-2). Now realize what Saul had. He had great looks and a winning personality. He was from a wealthy family and had been accorded all of the advantages that money offers. He had been picked out by God to be King of Israel. He had the power and prestige of that office. His word was law. What he said went. When he said “jump,” people around him said “how high?“ He was the final earthly arbiter of the affairs of the nation.

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