Summary: An Exposition of 1 Sam. 18
Playing the Green Game
1 Sam. 18
How many of you own a dog here, raise your hands? We own a dog at our house by the name of Maggie Mae Mutt. Contrary to popular belief, she is a playful and even friendly dog- as long as she knows you. We have had her since she was just a puppy, and in a lot of ways, she still has a lot of puppy in her. Whenever I come home, she always has a game she loves to play with what me which involves what we have come to call her SPECIAL TOY. The game goes something like this: I sit down, and start doing something- watching TV, reading, studying- and Maggie runs and grabs her SPECIAL TOY in her mouth, and starts to make it squeak. Then she starts to wander around near me, but not too near. She starts shaking the SPECIAL TOY from side to side, bringing it nearer, nearer, nearer… and just when she thinks I might possibly be able to get it, she backs off, and then starts the process all over again. She is trying to entice me with her SPECIAL TOY. She wants me to want it. In Maggie’ mind, if I had any sense at all, I would stop whatever I am doing when I hear the SPECIAL TOY squeak and come running after her, grabbing and begging to be allowed to hold the SPECIAL TOY in my mouth. The most important part of the game for her is that I have to want what she has- not to get it from her, but more importantly to want it enough to run after her and try to get it.
I know people who would be real good at Maggie Mae Mutt’s game. They might not be too interested in the SPECIAL TOY, but they are very interested in what other people have. Their thoughts are full of wanting, without having: wanting the car, or the man/woman, or the job, or the money, or the power, or the position- any of these things that somebody else has, they want it. William Shakespeare once called envy “the Green Sickness.” I want to call it the Green Game, and the sad part is that in this game, nobody wins, and everybody loses.
Now you might not think envy is very serious, or at least not much of a problem for you. But before you jump to that conclusion, let’s remember that sin is very subtle; it can fool us into overlooking its presence, especially on our own hearts. The fact is that we all play the Green Game of envy, at least to some extent. More importantly, all of us face the danger of allowing envy to hurt us, and if we do not deal with it, it may even destroy us. This morning, I want to look at a case study in envy, found in 1 Sam. 18, but before we get there, let’s be sure we understand a little more about envy:
I. ENVY IS A SERIOUS SIN
Envy is an attitude that is hard to define. Many of us think of envy and jealousy as pretty much the same thing, but Christian psychologist Dr. Gary Collins writes:
There is a distinction between jealousy and envy. To envy is to want something which belongs to another person.
In contrast, jealousy is the fear that something which we possess will be taken away by another person.
Another author explains envy this way:
The envious man feels other’s fortunes are his misfortunes; their profit, his loss; their blessing, his bane; their health, his illness; their promotion, his demotion; their success, his failure.—Leslie Flynn
I have come up with a working definition of envy that helps me grasp its meaning. Envy: when someone else’s happiness makes you unhappy; when someone else’s blessing makes you bitter; when someone else’ advancement makes you angry.
When you really understand what envy is, then you can recognize it all around you. In the heart of that young man or woman not chosen for the team, envy simmers in their heart towards that friend who is chosen. When that girlfriend of your buddy is really the only woman for you. When you are passed over for that promotion that your coworker now enjoys, envy can wrap its slimy tentacles around your heart. I’ve seen people play the Green Game when a church member gets a new car, or a new job, or a new house. Many people play the Green Game whenever someone else is given an award or recognition that they wanted. Why should they get all the applause instead of me? How come I can’t own things like that? Why isn’t my husband/wife like that? For every person who enjoys a blessing, there are others around them who become angry, and bitter, and unhappy because they didn’t get what the other person got. That is envy, and there is not a person in this room who has not, at some point, to some degree, played the Green Game of envy.