A Bible Study from Our Pastor

Do Not Envy One Another”

  I Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

  Galatians 5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

  James 3:14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly,  unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

  Romans 1:29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.

  I Peter 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

  Galatians 5:19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition,     dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before,   that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  Titus 3:3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

  I Timothy 6:4  They are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions

  Philippians 1:15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.

1.      According to Christian tradition there are seven deadly sins. They are nowhere called “the seven deadly sins” or listed as such in the Bible, but through the years different teachers have compiled them into a list of seven sins that are particularly destructive to our souls. They are: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath.  Envy is considered especially diabolical as it is the exact opposite of love.  While love rejoices when others experience good and enjoy success, envy hates it when others rejoice and know good things.     

2.      Envy can be defined as a strong feeling of jealousy and ill-will at the success, victory, or superiority of another.  Envy is covetousness. It begrudges someone else’s blessings. Beyond ordinary competition or rivalry, envy is the desire to obtain for yourself the advantage currently possessed by another person, and even worse, it desires for that other person to have none of it.  Envy resents it when another acquires wealth or talents or qualities or accolades.

3.      Jessica Udall writes on an internet article on Crosswalk.com that envy “rarely travels alone.”  She points out that it is usually accompanied by other evil sins that destroy lives and rob people of joy and fulfillment in Christ.  She shares scriptures that show that envy comes with hatred, quarrels, controversies, selfish ambition, deceit, hypocrisy, and slander.

4.      The story of “The Fall” of humankind in Genesis 3 is the story of envy.  It is one of the stories found in the “Primeval History” or “Primordial History” of the world in the first eleven chapters of Genesis.  These stories underlie all human history and describe the spiritual condition of every human.  Notice that when Satan tempted Adam and Eve, he did so by telling Eve that if they ate from the forbidden tree, it would give them the ability to “know” for themselves what was good and of evil.  They ate it because doing so would make them like God.  God would no longer be needed to tell them what was good and evil.  They could decide for themselves whether something was good or evil.

5.      The story of the Fall is the story of Satan being envious of God.  Satan hated the joy God felt and enjoyed as he kept company with people.  So Satan attacked the objects of God’s affection. He wanted to wreck the divine-human relationship.  Satan did this by tempting Adam and Eve to decide they did not need to have God in their lives. He tempted them by stirring them up to envious of God as well:  “You can become like God.  You don’t need God to tell you what is right and wrong. You can decide for yourself.  You can become independent from him.”  Satan encouraged them to take for themselves the one prerogative that God had reserved for himself alone, because God knew that if humans were to have a relationship with him, they had to let God be God.  But Satan tempted them to declare that they didn’t need God to be God.  He got them to envy God. 

6.      At its root, envy is always hatred of God and others, and involves self-worship. The world, everyone else, and even God himself, exists around us, and we are the center of it all.  What we want is what is most important.  And we envy and hate anyone that reminds us that we are not the center of our universe.  

7.      Where life is a gift that comes to us from God, and comes with certain expectations, to live by love for God is love, to love God in return, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, Satan stirs us up to envy God and to envy our neighbors.  To try to take from God that which rightfully belongs to him, and to take from our neighbors, that which he or she has that we want for ourselves.  We make God into an object, and we make our fellow human beings into objects, they are simply stage-props to help us act out the play we want to write for ourselves.

8.      While God desires to give us not just life, but life with abundance; Satan on the other hand convinces people that we can pick and choose,  doing whatever we want to make us more the center of our universe, and as a result of listening to Satan, we find that he kills and steals and destroys, and always lies to us.  When we know the truth that will make us free, we discover that joy never comes from worshipping ourselves, serving ourselves, and chasing elusive happiness.  It will only come by loving God and our neighbors.    

9.      In the Gospels, when we look at the temptations that Satan used upon Jesus, we discover that his temptations to Jesus were also based upon envy.  He wanted Jesus to worship him, and he tempted Jesus to put himself ahead of God.  As in the “Fall of Man” Satan tried to stir up envy in Adam and Eve, so when he attacked “The Son of Man” he tried to stir up envy in Jesus, but Jesus did not “fall” for it.  He refused to let Satan convince him to fall into the same trap of not needing or heeding God.  Jesus said that he did what the Father did, he said what the Father said, he and the Father we going to be one.  He would serve God and God alone.  

10.  In summary, envy is the most insidious of all the tools in Satan’s tool kit.  He constantly is stirring us up to envy. 

11.  Let us read what James 3:14-16 has to say about envy.  It says that the so-called “wisdom” we gain from envy is not that which comes from heaven but from Satan: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” 

12.  As in “The Fall” Satan convinced humanity to seek a wisdom that would make themselves the center of everything, it was not a heavenly “wisdom” he got them to chase.  The wisdom that comes from envy is an earthly, demonic wisdom.  It results in selfish ambition (putting ourselves ahead of God and neighbors), and it causes the destruction of the good order God created the world to have.  Envy results in every kind of evil practice.  

13.  Jesus came to destroy the kingdom of Satan, to cast out unclean spirits from the earth, to free us from their desire to tempt and control us, to have us repent and be restored and reconciled to the way of God, and to have in us the mind that was in Christ, where we put others and their needs above our own desires and needs. 

14.  When we learn to love as Christ loved us, to forgive as Christ forgave us, to not be conformed to the world, but to be renewed in our minds so that we know the will of God which is good, and acceptable, and perfect, then we are moved out from underneath the motivation of envy.  We are no longer envying God or our neighbor, the results of “The Fall” are reversed.  If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation, and the old has become new.

15.  One of Charles Wesley’s masterpiece hymns is “I Want a Principle Within.” It is asking for God’s Spirit to impart to us an inner principle that turns us away from any sin that would keep us from loving God or loving neighbor as we ought.  It asks for God to immediately alert us the very moment that sin begins to stir within us so that we can rebuke the sin and seek God’s help to give us victory over it that we may love as we ought to love:

          1. I want a principle within 
                of watchful, godly fear,
                a sensibility of sin, 
                a pain to feel it near. 
                I want the first approach to feel 
                of pride or wrong desire,
                to catch the wandering of my will, 
                and quench the kindling fire.

               2. From thee that I no more may stray, 
                no more thy goodness grieve,
                grant me the filial awe, I pray, 
                the tender conscience give.
                Quick as the apple of an eye, 
                O God, my conscience make;
                awake my soul when sin is nigh, 
                and keep it still awake.

              3. Almighty God of truth and love, 
                to me thy power impart;
                the mountain from my soul remove, 
                the hardness from my heart.
                O may the least omission pain 
                my reawakened soul,
                and drive me to that blood again, 
                which makes the wounded whole.