Bible Study Helps and Lessons
#4 The Seven Deadly Sins: Envy
When the early church fathers developed this list of the seven deadly sins, they knew well what they were talking about. Today we look at the sin of envy.
There are 2 reasons this is an important thought for us.
First, Envy is the sin no one talks about. People pridefully brag about their accomplishments. They show off their new possessions. People make jokes about their procrastination. Men will tell stories about their lust. Entertainers or pro-athletes brag about their liaisons with women on the road. Underage minors pop off about drinking and never getting caught. Comedians make routine about heavy drinking. But envy; very rarely will anyone ever suggest they’ve sinned in envy.
A second reason this is an important thought is because envy is probably the most vicious or destructive sin in our list of seven. Yoda in the Star Wars movies once said “Envy leads to jealousy, jealousy leads to hate, hate leads to anger, anger leads to the dark side”. One author describes envy as the nastiest, ugliest, meanest and most grim of the seven deadly sins.
Envy has a malicious nature to it that seeks to do harm to others. Envy loves to traffic in gossip, slander, hatred, retaliation, even thievery and murder.
In 1 Kings 21 there is a story about Wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in ancient Israel. Naboth, who was a good man, had a lovely vineyard next to Ahab’s palace. Ahab was envious and asked if he could buy the vineyard but Naboth said it has been in the family for years, I can’t sell. So Queen Jezebel devised a plot to invite Naboth to a royal banquet where two hired scoundrels surprised Naboth and accused him in front of the King of cursing God and the King. The false charges stood and Naboth was stoned to death.
Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
There are several stories in the Bible about envy. In the book of Esther, Haman was envious of Esther’s uncle Mordicea and sought to have him killed. King Saul envied David and threw a spear at him in the King’s court trying to kill him. In Genesis Jacob’s son’s turned against Joseph who was smart and good looking. They sold him into slavery and the history of Israel was changed forever.
Remember the scene when Pilate offered to release Jesus because it was the custom at the Passover? The crowd stirred up by the Pharisees called instead for Barabbas to be released. In Matthew 27:17-18 we read, “So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he (Pilate) knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.”
Politically speaking Jesus died on the cross because the Pharisee envied Him so and they couldn’t stand the fact that common men and women and children everywhere loved Jesus for who he was and what he had done for them.
I. SYMPTOMS OF ENVY.
1. Envy is malicious. Envy has been defined by one author as ill will with a desire to harm.
2. Envy is jealousy. Most commonly envy is a sin among equals. Saul the King of Israel promoted David to lead the army into Battle, but when David returned victorious and the people cheered David saying, ‘Saul has killed his thousands and David his ten thousands.’
3. Envy is usually dejected. Envy becomes sad or depressed over our own lack of possessions or position or looks.
4. Envy is hypocritical. Paul told us in Romans 12:15 “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Envy causes us to do a flip-flop; we rejoice when others weep and we weep when others rejoice.
5. Envy involves lovelessness. Envy is rooted in self-love.
II. THE BIBLE’S CAUTION.
A. The Bible cautions us about envy many times over. I Cor. 13:4 says, “Love does not envy.” Eccl. 4:4 says, “Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.”
B. Envy is deadly to us not just because it can be very destructive, but most of the time it will not let us live. It will not let us be satisfied with what we have or be grateful for our own talents and personality. Envy hinders us from finding meaning in our lives because we think the meaning must be someplace else.
III. THE CURE FOR ENVY.
A. So what can we do to curb envy in our lives and replace it with love for others. I have some suggestions, as you might have guessed.
1. Practice being thankful for what you have.
2. Remind yourself the truth about yourself and other people.
3. Seek the best for others in your life. Romans 12:15, 16 tells us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
4. Love heaven first. Romans 8 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Sometime on this earth we get very concerned with the clothes we must have, the car we must drive, the club we must belong to and in the perspective of heaven those things matter very little, actually they don’t matter at all. We get all caught up in the house we live in. Heaven is our goal, love is the highway we will travel to arrive there.
History tells of a statue that was erected to celebrate the victory of the Grecian games. It so aroused the envious hatred of the rivals that one of them sneaked out at night to topple the statue. He found it so heavy he had to put quite an effort into rocking it back and forth. When he finally got it to topple it fell the wrong way and crushed him to death. This is the way of bitter envy. Love Wins!
March 23, 2011