Envy: Deadly Sin #6

There was an artist who had two apprentices. One was a turtle. The other was a opossum. In the third year of their employment, the artist began to shower gifts on the opossum. He gave him a car, fine food, jewelry, even a hot tub. The turtle soon became extremely envious, angry that his co-worker was receiving all these gifts when he was not. He demanded that his employer give him exactly what the opossum was getting. He begged, cajoled, pleaded, and even threatened until the artist had no choice but to concede to his demands.

The next day, the artist asked the turtle where he wanted to be buried.

"What are you talking about?" asked the turtle.

"I was giving all of those gifts to your co-worker because he was becoming old and sick. Opossums do not live long, you know. He died this morning. Now, I must give him a burial. In keeping with my promise, I must now give you a burial as well.

Job 5:2 For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.

What is Envy? Envy is the opposite of gratitude. To quote Dr. Larry Osbourne, Gratitude recognizes and appreciates God's blessings and asks "why me?" Envy begrudges the blessings and success of others and asks "why them?"

Envy is the enemy of generosity. Remember the story of the hired workers in Matthew 20:1-15.

[1] "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard.
[2] He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
[3] "About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.
[4] He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.'
[5] So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing.
[6] About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'
[7] " 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. "He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'
[8] "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'
[9] "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius.
[10] So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.
[11] When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.
[12] 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
[13] "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius?
[14] Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you.
[15] Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' [NIV]
In today's society, the early arrivals probably would have sued.

Envy is a destructive thing. It wastes health, for one thing.

Proverbs 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. [NIV]

It destroys relationships.

James 4:1-2
[1] What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?
[2] You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. [NIV]
And it interferes with our walk with God. Consider what happened when Miriam envied her brother, Moses. She and her brother were envious of Moses and equated themselves with him.

Numbers 12:2 "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn't he also spoken through us?" And the Lord heard this.

The result was that Miriam was stricken with leprosy for a week. It also poisoned her relationship with her sister-in-law, since in her envy, she made some racist remarks about Ziporah being an Ethiopian.

So we've established that envy is bad. What are some of the warning signs of envy?

Score-keeping is one. If you're constantly comparing what you have or achieve against someone else, that's pretty much the definition of envy.

Continual pesimism is another. If you're looking at the proverbial glass as being half-empty, you are concentrating on what you don't have rather than being grateful for what you do have.

When you just HAVE to have something, it's a small jump to coveting, a form of envy which is strictly forbidden right in the ten commandments.

And of course, being a sore loser is one of the worst.

So how do we combat envy?

The first thing to do is trust God to bless us as long as we walk in His will, and to meet our needs. And trust, according to Romans 8:28, that if He chooses NOT to bless us, there is a darn good reason for it.

Second, look for God's blessings in your life.

Third, MARK them. Write them all down in a book if you have to.

Lastly, talk about them. You can't very well forget God's blessings when you're calling attention to them. Most importantly, recognize them before God, and give Him thanks.

This week's challenge goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway. If you're a Christian, count your blessings and give thanks for them. If you're not, then get yourself into a position to GET blessed by accepting Jesus as your savior.

Pastor Oren Otter
September 16, 2006

Today's reading: Numbers 12:1-10

1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.
3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
4 And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.
5 And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
9 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.
10 And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.