The sin of Adam and Eve brought about their eviction from the Garden of Eden. Everything had changed because of their sin. Things that were once done with ease could only accomplished now with great difficulty and pain.
In Genesis 4, the Bible records the story of the two sons of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. The sin that motivated Cain to kill his brother Abel was the sin of envy. Cain became envious because his sacrifice had been rejected while his brother’s had been accepted. The envy he allowed into his heart and mind was the beginning of a downward spiral which led to the awful sin of murder.
Perhaps no sin is underestimated more for its danger than envy. We often think that envy is a sin of lamenting what another has or does. While that is true, the beginning of envy is when we do not do what we know we should do. Cain was not rejected because Abel was accepted. He was rejected because his offering was unacceptable. Centuries later, we see another story in I Samuel 15 which bears striking similarities to the story of Cain and Abel. Like Cain, Saul was not rejected because David was greater. Saul was rejected because of his own failure to do what he was supposed to do.
Envy begins with our failure and not someone else’s success.
Sadly, it still destroys many Christians. Envy does more harm to the church than we might realize. Envy does more damage in relationships than we could ever anticipate. To be envious is to set one’s self up for destruction.
When a person becomes envious they lose sight of their personal relationship with God because they are focused, often consumed, by someone else. Whenever we are envious of another, our relationship with God will suffer. Once we begin to entertain envious thoughts, we begin plotting to bring down the target of your envy. It has been said that, while adultery has slain thousands, envy has slain tens of thousands. Envy is a sin that pits brother against brother, friend against friend, preacher against preacher, deacon against deacon, and Christian against Christian. One of the dangers we face as a result of doing right is that it often spawns envy in others. It leads to animosity and judging the intentions of others. Often, there is backbiting, tale bearing, lying, harm, and sometimes murder.
Envy is destructive to the work of God. These are only a few examples of what envy does to God’s work:
- The spirit of serving is lost because of envy.
- The sincerity of the Christian is lost because of envy.
- The move of God in the work of the church is lost because of envy.
- Relationships between believers are destroyed because of envy.
- Trust in authority is diminished because of envy.
- The joy of the Lord is gone because of envy.
Envy causes irrational behavior as we see in the lives of both Cain and Saul. Envy is incoherent. A one who is envied is often a blameless person who is doing what is right, as illustrated in the lives of Abel and David. Abel sought to please the Lord while David sought to fight the giant.
The Bible in Proverbs 14:30 warns that envy rots the innermost part of our being and makes us unstable. A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
James 3:14, says, But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. Envy is a sign of not possessing wisdom from above. In verse 16, we see that all evil works descend from envy, For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
I Peter 2:1–2 says that we must lay envy aside in order to grow spiritually. Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
Titus 3:3 groups envy with other divisive and evil sins. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
In I Samuel 18:6–9, we see how David became the object of Saul’s envious heart. And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
How can a Christian avoid becoming envious towards others? Here are just a few thoughts:
- In everything give thanks.
- Rejoice in the success and blessings of others.
- Be the best we can be at what God has given us to do and do not compare ourselves to others. Be a student of others who are successful.
- Never rise above the position of servant.
If we do everything to the glory of God and not for our own gain, we can avoid being a Cain or a Saul.
This article is an abridged excerpt from Pastor Neal’s book, Satan’s Toolbox.
Learn more at BereanPublications.com.
Pastor Neal, through his preaching and his counseling, displays the compassionate heart of a pastor, follows the true leading of the Holy Spirit, and expresses a fervent desire to see lost souls come to know Christ. It is his ultimate desire to see the greater Jacksonville area reached for the cause of Christ and for revival to come to Northeast Florida.