Scripture: Psalms 37:1-7
One of the barriers to being concerned for other people is that we envy them. We’re going to talk tonight about battling the unbelief of envy. Let’s define it.
As I analyzed envy myself this afternoon—and when I checked my thoughts with Webster’s dictionary—two things stood out about it.
1) Envy has an element of desire in it. Somebody has experienced an advantage or benefit in life, and you want that to happen to you. That doesn’t necessarily make you envious, however, because that kind of desire is okay when you’re drawn to imitate saintly people.
2) The other element—and the one that makes envy bad—is that the desire is tinged with resentment that it’s going well for the other person and not for you. That’s what makes it envy.
So, in a sentence, envy is a mingling of a desire for something with the resentment that another is enjoying it and you are not. Things aren’t going so well for you, but things are going well for them; and it just gnaws away at you sometimes. Why does it go so well for that person when it doesn’t go so well for me?
The next thing I did this afternoon was to try and flesh it out. I tried to find some examples of envy from my own life, from my imagination, and from other people’s lives.
What are some illustrations of envy? See if you can find yourself in these scenarios:
Or what if your friend gets married and you don’t get married. You’ve known this friend a long time perhaps, and now that person is getting married and you’re not. You could start to feel a little resentful that it happened to him or her and yet it hasn’t happened to you.
Or say you have a child who is chronically sick while the other families around you always seem to be healthy. You could think, My child is always sick. My child gets sick week in and week out and has these extraordinary problems; but these other families, who are no better than ours, are always well.
Or what if you’re on the second string of your high school sports team. All you do is warm the bench, while the guy on first string, even though he’s such a smart alec, gets to play all the time.
Or suppose you have a friend who a plays the lottery. They’re a real scoundrel but they make a million dollars. You might think you deserve that money more than your friend.
Or you’re a pastor and you see other churches growing while yours fluctuates between no growth at all and just minimal growth. You might think this ought not to be.
Or perhaps you think that others are much better looking or much more fashionable than you. God gave you your looks, but how easy it is to walk through life, see others who seem so much more handsome, and feel envious of them.