Summary: Envy is an underhanded enemy that chaffs at many Christians and spoils our joy.
When the early church fathers developed this list of the seven deadly sins, they knew well what they were talking about. Today we look at the sin of envy.
There are 2 reasons this is an important sermon for us. First, Envy is the sin no one talks about. We boast about other sins, but envy is not one Christians ever admit to. People pridefully brag about their accomplishments. They show off their new possessions. People make jokes about their procrastination. Men will tell stories about their lust. Entertainers or pro-athletes brag about their liaisons with women on the road.. People aren’t shy about gluttony, either. On the Discovery Channel I once watched a show about men who were preparing for an eating contest. It’s actually a sport in America. Under age minors pop off about drinking and never getting caught. Comedians make routine about heavy drinking. But envy; very rarely will anyone ever suggest they’ve sinned in envy. VH1 has a show called the Fabulous life of…..
A second reason this is an important sermon is because envy is probably the most vicious or destructive sin in our list of seven. Yoda in the Star Wars movies once said “Envy leads to jealousy, jealousy leads to hate, hate leads to anger, anger leads to the dark side”
One author describes envy as the nastiest, ugliest, meanest and most grim of the seven deadly sins.
If you are slothful some times you just miss out on something better, no one is directly hurt. If you are angry and keep it to yourself, you just sour your own heart. The person who offended you may not even know you are upset. If you have been lustful, your indiscretion may not end in pregnancy or great harm, you just live with the memory of something stupid you did in college. But envy has a malicious nature to it that seeks to do harm to others. Envy loves to traffic in gossip, slander, hatred, retaliation, even thievery and murder.
In 1 Kings 21 there is a story about Wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in ancient Israel. Naboth who was a good man, a righteous had a lovely vineyard next to Ahab’s palace. Ahab was envious and asked if he could buy the vineyard but Naboth said it has been in the family for years, I can’t sell. So Queen Jezebel devised a plot to invite Naboth to a royal banquet where two hired scoundrels surprised Naboth and accused him in front of the King of cursing God and the King. The false charges stood and Naboth was stoned to death.
I’ve got news that will be a shock some of you. If you are a Christian today, and live openly, people will lie about you and to you. Sometimes it’s even hard to be vindicated from their lies in this life.
Envy is a terrible sin. Proverbs 14:30 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
There are a lot of stories in the Bible about envy. In the book of Esther ole hateful Haman was envious of Esther uncle Mordicea and sought to have him killed. King Saul envied David and once through a spear at him in the King’s court trying to kill him. In Genesis Jacob’s son’s turned against Joseph who was smart and good looking. They sold him into slavery and the history of Israel was changed forever.
The most vicious story of envy in the Bible though is in the gospels. Remember that scene when Pilate offered to release Jesus because it was the custom at the Passover and the crowd stirred up by the Pharisees called instead for Barrabas to be released. In Matthew 27 we read, “17So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18For he (that’s Pilate) knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.”
Politically speaking Jesus died on the cross because the Pharisee envied Him so and they couldn’t stand the fact that common men and women and children everywhere loved Jesus for who he was and what he had done for them. The world the Bible says didn’t like the master they won’t like the church. They can always be looking for a way to destroy our work.
I heard about a little old wonderful Christian lady who lived next to an atheist. Every morning as a witness to her neighborhood this little Christian lady would call out, ‘Praise the Lord’. The atheist hated this so living nearby he would call out, ‘There is no God.” She did this every morning with the same results. As time went by the lady ran into some financial difficulties and had trouble even buying food so one day on her porch she prayed and asked God to help her and then called out Praise the Lord. The next morning she goes out onto the porch and there’s the groceries she asked for and she calls our Praise the Lord. The atheist jumps out from behind a bush and says, ‘Ha, I bought those groceries. There is no God.’ The lady looks at him and smiles, she shouts, “Praise the Lord, not only did you provide for me Lord, you made Satan pay for the groceries.”