Envy- It’s Worse Than You Think

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 now were accomplished with great difficulty and pain.

The Bible records the story of two sons of Adam and Eve. They are the two sons we all know best Cain and Abel. We all know the story. The sin that caused the murder of Cain’s brother was the sin of envy. The reason Cain was envious because his sacrifice had been rejected while his brother’s had been accepted. The envy was the beginning of a downward spiral which led to the awful sin of murder.

Fast forward centuries later and we see a similar story exemplifying the terrible sin of envy. Perhaps no sin is underestimated more for its danger than this one. The similarities in these stories are striking. 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. Likewise 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, not someone else’s success. Yet sadly it destroys many Christians. Envy does more harm to the church than we realize. Envy does more harm in relationships than we realize. 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, even consumed by someone else. Whenever you are envious of another your relationship with God will suffer. Once you begin to entertain envious thoughts you begin plotting to bring down the target of your envy. It has been said that adultery has slain its thousands but envy it’s 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, backbiting, tale bearing, lying, harm, and sometimes murder.

Envy is destructive to the work of God. These are but 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 both the story of Cain and Abel, and Saul and David. Envy is incoherent. A person who is envied is often someone who has merely done right. This is illustrated in the lives of Abel and David. Abel sought to please the Lord. 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 sixteen 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 music. 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.

  • Do everything to the glory of God and not for your gain.
  • In everything give thanks.
  • Rejoice in the success and blessings of others.
  • Be the best you can be at what God has given you to do and do not compare yourself to others. Be a student of others who are successful.
  • Never rise above the position of servant.

If you do these things you can avoid being a Cain or a Saul.

This article is an excerpt of the chapter “Envy, Mental Manipulation” from the book, Satan’s Toolbox.

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by pastor greg neal

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