Summary: This Sermon deals with how we allow envy to ruin the church and that at the root of envy is an anger toward God for seemingly playing favorites.
Envy—The Unholy Complaint
Four kids were in the kitchen talking with each other. All of their eyes glanced by the large cookies in the glass cookie jar. There were only three cookies in the jar. All of them wanted a full cookie. What were they going to do? Talking about it in the open was not going to be an option because it meant breaking a cookie or being left out altogether. What would you do to solve this dilemma?
Each kid had decided on his or her own, that he or she would take a cookie when no one else was in the kitchen and go and eat it in secret. Janet came into the empty kitchen and got her cookie. Tasha came through the silent kitchen and got her cookie. Jamaal was so glad to come into the dark kitchen to get his cookie. David took his flashlight into the kitchen and carefully tipped over to the cookie jar, and yelled, “I’m telling Mom, “it’s not fair, somebody ate all the cookies.”
Let me ask you, is David interested in justice and fairness, or making an unholy complaint? He wanted to do exactly what the others had done, except the opportunity did not present itself. He really had wanted a cookie, and he had planned to take a cookie. But because he could not get one, he was ready to attack those who had. David was envious that they had gotten a cookie, and he had not.
Have you ever had someone not like you for no apparent reason? You never said anything one way of the other about the person, you never mistreated the person, as a matter of fact you even tried to be nice to the person but no matter what you did or did not do, the person simply did not like you. There’s a good chance that envy is at the root of the person’s problem. There is something you have that the other person wants. You may not have a clue to what it is.
Envy is one of those sins that the bible considers deadly, but we simply brush it to the side. We bring it with us to worship on Sundays. That’s why we have to sing, “As we gather, may Your Spirit work within us.” Otherwise envy will be at work each time worship begins. If someone claps louder for another soloist or if someone says, wow that was a great song. Envy whispers, “your song was just as good why didn’t he say it about you.” Someone says, “He does an outstanding job as an usher.” Envy says, ‘you do just as good as a job, why does she play favorites.” Envy resents it when someone else gets more credit, more recognition, or more results than you do. It keeps us from rejoicing with those who rejoice.
Envy can begin with very innocent sounding statements. “I wish I could sing like she does.” I use to dance like that. Then they move to accusations. “Why can’t you be more like Janet’s husband.” “It’s just not fair, I know I deserved that promotion more than she did.” “Our church works just as hard as they do, why are they growing by leaps and bounds and we’re barely growing at all.”
Envy is something I struggle with in ministry as well. “Lord, I’ve worked hard and been faithful for twenty years in this church. So why is the church that started four years ago already four times the size of our church.” How many of you can confess to there being some envy in your heart as well. Sometimes the envy very quickly fades away, and we think nothing else of it. But other times we allow the envy to take root and become jealous to the point of taking something away from the person.