Summary: The 4th sermon in the series, "Untying What’s Tying You Up", this sermon deals with envy, examining what it is; how the Bible views it; what's at the root of it, and how to get untied from it.
Untying the Knot of Envy
Series – Problems: Untying What’s Tying You Up
May 5, 2013
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available upon request by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ATTENTION: Although I have personalized this sermon to suit my style and some of my own illustrations, the basic structure of this sermon comes from Jeff Strite’s sermon titled “The Envy Trap” by Jeff Strite, which can found on SermonCentral.com.
TEXT: 1 Timothy 6:6-10 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Opening Illus. – I read a story not so long ago about a second grader named Rachel who had collected a fair amount of money from the tooth fairy. Every time she lost a tooth, she’d put it in a small envelope and put it under her pillow and, behold, in the morning the tooth was gone and in its place was $2.00. That was just great because two dollars is a lot of money for a 2nd grader.
At least it was until, one day Rachel visited a friend of hers who told her how she had put her tooth under her pillow and found $10 the next morning. Rachel then asked her friend’s mother, “Mrs. Kraft, would you mind doing me a big favor? Would you please call my mom and tell her which tooth fairy you use?”
Paul tells us in verse 6 of our text that godliness with contentment is great gain. But this little girl had lost her contentment. Why?—Because she had gotten tied up by envy.
We’re in a series titled, “Untying What’s Tying You Up”—and envy has tied up and robbed more Christians of their joy and satisfaction in life than many things I know of. It’s one of the snares Paul hints at when he says in verse 9, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare [which literally means a ‘trap’].”
The word “snare” is an apt word to describe how envy can tie us up. The dictionary defines a snare as “A trap for catching birds or animals, typically one having a noose of wire or cord.” When an animal gets caught by the noose in a snare, it often gets more and more entangled and tied up the more it struggles against the snare. That’s what envy can do to you.
So today, let’s get a handle on envy and see how we can get untied from this snare.
I. FIRST, WHAT IS ENVY AND WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ENVY?
The 2009 Random House Dictionary defines envy as “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.”
Notice, that the little girl had gotten $2.00 a tooth. A second grader with $2.00 in their pocket should be literally in heaven. That’s a lot of money for a child…until she found out her friend got $10.00 for hers. Now she was discontent with $2.00 because she coveted what her friend got.
Solomon wrote: “Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 4:4)
This is difficult to understand in the King James, so here’s what this means in modern English: “Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”
Apparently, envy is a driving force in the lives of many people. It pushes them to be competitive, hard working and successful. So, you would expect that such a motivation would be a good thing, right?
Actually, the Bible has NOTHING good to say about envy.
• Envy leads people to do evil things to those they envy.
In Genesis 37 you have the story of Joseph whose father, Jacob, showed favoritism to Joseph, which is always a dangerous thing to show to your kids. Genesis 37:11 says, “And his brethren envied him…”—which moved them to hate him, conspire against him and even be tempted to kill him! Ultimately, the oldest brother talked the rest of the brothers into selling Joseph into slavery rather than leaving him in a pit to die a certain death.
• It was envy that turned Saul into David’s bitterest enemy in 1 Samuel 18.