Summary: God has made us with the ability to feel the emotions of jealousy and envy to enrich our lives, but those emotions can easily lead us into sin. We can counteract jealousy and envy by cultivating gratitude.
A. My friend Dan Williams tells the story about a mission trip to Central American that he was on several years ago.
1. He found himself on a bus with other Americans who were also visiting that part of the world.
a. On these kinds of trips, you are often thrown together with fellow travelers, and you tend to talk to your seatmate to see if you have any common connections.
b. Dan couldn’t help overhearing one such conversation that took place between the two people sitting in front of him.
2. The woman was in her late 50’s, rather stylishly dressed, and clearly well-off.
a. The man was in his early 40’s and wore khakis and a polo shirt.
b. The woman asked, “Where are you from?” and the man politely told her.
c. She answered by giving her home town, a city not far from his, and then added, “My husband couldn’t make the trip because of his work. He is a very important man – he is the president of a university and he has a Ph.D.
d. So, do you have a degree of any kind?” “Well, yes,” the man replied, “I have an M.D. I’m a surgeon.”
3. “I see,” the woman answered in a disappointed tone.
a. Then she brightened up and continued: “We just bought a new automobile. It’s a Lexus. So, what kind of car do you drive?” “I drive a Mercedes,” the man replied.
4. There was a long pause, and you could tell the woman was searching for a trump card.
a. Finally she said, “Well, you know, last week we had Senator Smith and his wife over for dinner. I’m sure you don’t know the senator, do you?”
b. The man smiled and said, “You know, that’s really funny. Senator Smith was in our home just 2 months ago – in fact, we held a fundraiser for him. It sure is a small world, isn’t it?”
5. There was another long pause, and you could almost see the desperation in the woman’s face.
a. Finally, she turned back to the man and blurted out: “Well, I’ll bet my home is bigger than yours!”
b. Now, what in the world would make a person say something like that?
c. It’s called the green-eyed monster!
B. You’ve heard of the green-eyed monster, haven’t you?
1. The green-eyed monster has to do with the emotions of jealousy and envy.
2. Shakespeare used that name when he spoke of Othello saying, “Othello fell under the sway of the green-eyed monster.”
3. Have you ever felt the sway of the green-eyed monster? I have!
4. How familiar are you with the emotions of jealousy and envy?
5. Just like with all of our emotions, God has created us with the ability to feel the emotions of jealousy and envy for our well-being.
6. But just like the other emotions, Satan can use our emotions against us and lead us into sin.
C. Jealousy and envy are powerful emotions.
1. Jealousy and envy are commonly used in interchangeably, but they are two distinct emotions.
2. Envy is the desire for someone or something that belongs to someone else – we might envy someone’s looks, their job, their family, their vacations, their skills, their money, etc.
3. Jealousy, on the other hand, is the desire to keep someone or something that belongs to us.
4. Jealousy is the fear that something which we possess will be taken away by another person.
5. Although jealousy can apply to our jobs, our possessions, or our reputations, the word is more commonly used for the fear that the affections of a loved one might be lost to a rival.
6. This is what is meant when the Bible says that God is a jealous God – God rightfully does not want to lose our affections to His rival – Satan – or to any other thing.
7. God has made a covenant with His people, His bride, and God is jealous of our relationship with Him and God experiences pain when His bride is unfaithful (Hosea 4:13-14).
8. While God’s jealousy towards us is righteous, our envy and jealousy is often unrighteous.
D. So, why has God created us with the ability to feel jealousy and envy?
1. Well, if we couldn’t feel jealousy or envy, then we might be oblivious to certain relationships that need to be protected, or lack the motivation to grow and to do our best.
2. Feelings of jealousy should be a signal or wake-up call that a valued relationship is in danger and that steps may need to be taken to shore up that relationship.
3. Feelings of envy can be that wake-up call to rightly evaluate who we are, what we are investing our lives in and what we are building our self-esteem upon.