Summary: Envy and self-satisfaction are destructive forces in the life of God’s children.
Text: “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16).
I would venture to say that all of us have harbored envy at some time in our life time. It is not uncommon for us to resent someone because they have accomplished something in their life or they possess some item that we wished we had.
Perhaps the person was a recipient of an inheritance or maybe the person received recognition for doing some kind deed for someone or some organization. Maybe we drive an old car that is held together by bailing wire and duct tape while our neighbor, who works at the same place we work, drives a bright shining new car.
I believe it is human nature to want what someone else has. This is very common in relationships today. The average marriage lasts about 3 years. In fact, it is very common for a couple not to make a commitment of marriage, but instead, they just live together. If someone has not made a commitment they can pick up their toys and leave when things get tough or problems arise.
Married couples who are having issues tend to look to someone who will sympathize with them. When this happens, changes begin to occur in their mind and the person who is sympathizing with them leads them to believe he or she is the answer to their problem.
Satan has set the trap and the bait has been taken. Sin now enters the picture because the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. If one would stop and think for just a moment, they would realize that the grass is always greener over the septic tank.
Envy has set in because one person desires the company of one who has a binding and legal relationship with another. It is permissible to listen to the problems of another person and to try to help that person, but not at the expense of committing a sinful act. None of us can solve all the problems created by others.
Many times when people step in to help those having problems, there is an ulterior motive just below the surface of the helping hand. For example, television advertisements tell people how to clear up all their debt obligations; how to lose 200 pounds in 30 days; how to change the belly fat into pure muscle by using this wonder exercise machine; how to get rid of back pain by using this gadget for 12 minutes each day; how to make $10,000 a week working with your home computer, or call this number, at a cost of $1.00 per minute, and a fortune teller will tell you anything you ever wanted to know.
Some of these advertisements really sound good, but if you stop and think for a moment, there is an ulterior motive. Each one of these offers cost you money. Every time someone takes advantage of one of these offers, the person or company offering makes money.
The testimonials projected on the television screen cause you to be envious of the people giving the testimony. You want what they have. Selfish ambition comes into play because you are convinced this is just what you need to satisfy your wants and your desires.
Your wants and your desires will never be satisfied with things. The only Person who can take care of your needs is the Lord Jesus Christ. The only Person who can help you live above envy is Jesus.
The only Person who can keep you in control, if your permit Him to do so, is the Lord Himself. He can eliminate selfishness in your life and my life. Jesus can do all that you will ever need and it will not cost you money. He can keep you alive and well and give you a productive life. The only cost is for Him to have permanent residence in your heart.
Let me share with you a little story about selfishness.
Story: “Why the Dead Sea?”
We have heard of dead people, dead beasts, dead trees and dead flowers, but is there such a thing as a dead sea? There is and they call it dead because it receives all and gives nothing. This body of water – the most remarkable in the world – is at the southern end of the Jordan Valley in Palestine.
It is 47 miles long and ten miles wide, 1292 feet below the sea level and is in one of the hottest regions on earth. It receives 5,000,000 tons of water daily into its bosom from the Jordan River, but gives none out to refresh and nourish the valley below, which has become an arid desert.
Its water is five times as salty as the ocean, is bitter to the taste, oily to the touch and leaves a yellow stain. No fish live in the water, no flowers bloom or fruits grow on its shores, no birds sing in it neighborhood. Its barkless driftwood and shores are incrusted with salt. Its setting is a scent of desolation and gloom, looking as if the curse of God rested on the entire region.