Summary: Discusses the sin of Envy
The Seven Deadly Sins Part 3: Envy
There was a man who had a brother whom it appeared that he loved. One day both brothers brought a gift, something that each of them had made as a gift to their father. The older brother’s gift was presented but was rejected by his father. When his younger brother presented his gift, he watched as his father accepted his gift and praised him for such a thoughtful gift. When he saw his younger brother being praised, he became angry. His father saw his anger and explained to the elder son that although he had made a mistake in what he chose to give, it was okay as long as next time he did it right. This apparently did not make him feel much better or caused his anger to cease. Every time he looked at his younger brother, the anger was still present. Finally his anger became so great that he killed his brother.
As you wonder if this story is true or if you could ever be so angry at a loved one let me tell you that this story is true. In this story, the older brother’s anger grew out of his being envious of the praise that his father gave to his younger brother. Envy is the third of the Seven Deadly Sins. Envy is defined as “discontent and ill will over another’s advantages, possessions, etc. A desire to have something someone else has.” “Love is patient, love is kind….” Love actively seeks the good of others for their sake. Envy resents the good others receive or even might receive. Envy is almost indistinguishable from pride at times. In the true story that I shared with you, the root cause of the older brother’s anger was envy. When he saw that his father accepted his younger brother’s gift and praised him, he became envious because he wanted the praise that his brother was receiving. When he did not receive it, it resulted in him becoming angry. Consider what would have happened if he too had received praise or if he had received the praise and his brother was the one who has messed up? The outcome would have been totally different. Envy is a sin that carries others with it (anger, jealousy, rivalry) which can result in one doing something in the heat of a moment that under normal circumstances they would not do. The story that I told you is based on the story of Cain and Abel as found in Genesis 4:1-15. There is also another story in Genesis chapter 37 about envy. I will not go into it in this message, but it is the story of Joseph and his brothers. Remember how they hated him (envy in action) and subsequently sold him into slavery? This is not something that we can think and fantasize about not happening to us; this is a very real tool that Satan uses daily to hinder our growth as Christians.
This morning I will identify what envy looks like and discuss some ways that we can battle this within our own lives.
I. Envy – The Perverted Love
Envy (as is pride) is a sin of “perverted love”. Envy is perverted because it “loves” what other people possess, rather than what is good, beautiful and true. It is often portrayed as “eating away” the heart of the envious person.
As you know, I had two older brothers and two younger sisters living in the house with me when I was a child. My older brother Delrick, who is right next to me in age, could draw really well. He would spend hours writing and drawing realistic cartoon figures complete with a story line. My mother (as well as others) would praise him for his artistic abilities. Well naturally being the poster child for pride back then, I wanted some of this praise too and one day I had the opportunity to get some. My mother had taken Delrick and I to work with her. At that time she worked at for a Headstart program. One day she asked Delrick to draw and paint a mural of Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall. She showed him the picture of what she wanted and the wall she wanted him to paint it on. She asked Delrick because he had artistic abilities. She did not ask me because she knew that I did not have artistic abilities. I was so bad at drawing that I could not make stick figures look right. However, in my mind, I was as good as Delrick and I was on this day going to get me some praise.
Delrick began drawing the mural and it was looking good. When he got to the feet, I asked him if I could draw the feet. Now what happens next is completely the fault of my brother Delrick. I can honestly attest to the fact that I was innocent in all of this. Why? Because Delrick knew that I could not draw, he knew it was his responsibility because he was the one who was asked to do it and he was older so he knew better. He gave me the pen and I began to draw the shoes. I thought I was doing something wonderful until my mother came out in the hall, saw what I drew and blew a gasket. Now you must remember, I was about 10 years old at the time and in my mind the shoes looked good. I do not know what my mother saw compared to what I saw. I saw shoes comparable to what my brother would draw. My mother saw Humpty Dumpty with one shoe that looked like what Bozo the Clown would wear and one shoe that looked liked a high heel that a woman would wear. I wanted to explain to her that she was looking at it wrong. That she needed to use her “creative eye” and look at it from different angles, but I did not get the chance. She pulled me away from the wall and told me not to even think about touching it again. Now to make matters worse, she made Delrick remove what I had spent so much time drawing and re-draw it. In my mind, mine looked better – more creative. The shoes Delrick drew looked the same, were comparable in size and looked normal. There is no creative value in drawing something that looked normal – but my mother was pleased. Once again, although I came so close to proving that I was just as good, that my talents were equal to my brother’s, I learned another lesson. After that my mother never asked me to draw anything for her again and I never offered.