I heard about this kindergarten teacher. She wanted to teach her students about self-esteem. She said to her class, “Everyone who thinks you are dumb, please stand up.” She didn’t think anybody would stand and she’d make the point how no one was dumb. But about that time little Jonny stood up. She didn’t quite know what to do. She said, “Now Jonny do you really think that you’re dumb?” He said “No, Ma’am. I just hate to see you standing there all by yourself.”
Everyone envies someone sometime. We envy those who get the assignment we wanted or the promotion we sought. We envy those whose talents seem better and whose families seem more intact. We envy those whose personalities glisten and whose gifts sparkle when placed next to ours.
Envy is the resentment that another person is enjoying something that you would like but don’t have.
The financially struggling man envies the fellow who retires at 55 and is set for life (not realizing that the retired man is feeling useless). The single woman envies the happily married wife and mother, (and the mother of three small children envies the freedom of the single woman). Even the child who has a roomful of toys wants the one toy that the other child has.
Envy is mentioned several times in the Bible. Every reference is negative. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A tranquil mind give life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”
Lift up what God has done for you. Find peace of mind in your love for the Lord.
Envy enters when, seeing someone else’s happiness or success, we feel ourselves called into question. Then, out of the hurt of our wounded self-esteem, we seek to bring the other person down to our level. Since they make us feel low and unappreciated by their success, we feel we should bring them down to their deserved level.
That’s no way to be. We never really feel good about doing this. If we’re honest after we’ve treated someone like this, the best we can say is we’re just like everyone else. But not everyone does this, nor do we want to throw away our spiritual life in order to take some cheap shots at someone’s good fortune.
One person said, “I often see the evil of my heart most clearly when I become aware that I have begrudged another person a blessing. Perhaps
another man has been given a salary increase or a generous bonus and now has money I don’t. Perhaps another man has been given a position of responsibility at work or at church. I see that he has been blessed and I react with envy and resentment.”
At least he’s being honest.
How do you respond when your friends or siblings are doing well? When they make the team or get an award or have lots of friends or are more successful in some way, are you happy for them? Do you communicate how proud you are of them?
Parents, what is your reaction when someone else’s child succeeds more than yours? How do you deal with another person talking about their child’s accomplishments?
Everyone feels envy. It’s what we do with it that matters.
Hold onto your walk with your God by doing good to the one you’re tempted to envy. Pray that they continue to be blessed. Ask the Lord to soften your heart toward them, to keep your thoughts bent toward kindness when thinking about them. Don’t make them into a stumbling block.
God’s grace is more important than us feeling better by putting others down. The truth is we don’t know what people are really going through. We don’t know how much they sacrificed in order to have what they have or how much they’ve had to deal with because we’re only looking at the shiny part of their life.
Often the reason we feel envious is because we have sacrificed so much ourselves but don’t seem to have the same rewards. The truth is we may be worn out or feeling lonely by our struggles.
When envious, check your willingness to feel bad about your life. Take some time to care for your own needs. Be kind to yourself and you will realize you don’t want someone else’s life as much as you want to feel good again about your own. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” When we feel envy, the solution is to step into the Lord’s care. You’ve been stretched too thin, and it’s time to feel the blessings of God’s love for you. It’s there, after all.
But we run from it so often and so hard that we feel we’re all on our own, all by ourselves, and we’ve given and given but we haven’t gotten. You have to find your place of peace, your time of refreshment. Stay put with
your hand out to the Lord, and say I’m not moving until you give me the love I need, the peace that passes understanding, the joy of my faith, the grace of your salvation.
Tell God you can’t take another step without the Lord directing your way, without his mercy covering your heart, without his kindness encouraging your spirit.
Envy tells us we’ve reached the end of our self-sustaining way of living. You’ve run out of your might; you’ve passed the point of your own power. It’s time to find the strength that comes from turning to God.
Stop working so hard on your own and instead be content with what the Lord will give you.
Our passage this morning begins with two brothers squabbling over an inheritance. One is obviously happier than the other, and they are seeking Rabbi Jesus to make a ruling.
But Jesus refuses to get involved in the disagreement. He will not participate in satisfying the envy one has of the other or the greed of the other at the one he senses has prompted the problem.
There’s no way you can be blessed if you’re fighting for what isn’t yours. We need to know what is ours, and what is someone else’s.
Find out where God has touched your life, and hold on to it. Let go of someone else’s blessing, or imagining it should be yours. The Lord will grow your joy within what is yours, not by giving you someone else’s, no matter how much you want it.
In today’s world, Facebook is a huge thing. When people, especially teenagers, log in to Facebook and see all their friends having a great time, it can be hard on them. It’s called “Facebook envy.” Recent studies from Stanford University suggest that people consistently underestimate how often other people have negative experiences, while overestimating how often they have positive ones.
The first study of 63 college freshmen showed 40% of them concealed negative experiences from Facebook posts. In the second experiment, freshmen were asked about their impressions of their peers’ good and bad experiences. This group was found to overestimate the good times by almost 10% and underestimate the negative times by almost 20%. A third experiment showed new students felt worse when they thought their peers were having more fun than them.
I know we tend to think kids today don’t have it so bad, but there are things such as Facebook envy that past generations never had to deal with. It may seem crazy to us but the truth is it’s just like the envy of peers you and I grew up with, other than it’s available to be seen and felt 24/7/365 days a year.
Envy happens to everyone. Back in his day, King Saul was provoked to envy by the celebration of the crowds concerning David. One story follows up on David’s victory over Goliath. The women come out to meet King Saul but they end up singing about the younger more handsome David.
Now, when you hear this, you might feel a kind of sympathy for Saul. The crowd should have respected the king while of course celebrating David’s accomplishment. But Saul was in the wrong, and it was his own son that would end up showing Saul how wrong he was.
Jonathon never had a problem with David, even though Jonathon was the next in line for the throne. He had every reason to fear and envy and compete with David.
David’s victory over Goliath was a threat to Jonathan’s future on the throne. But Jonathan didn’t resent David’s success. Jonathan recognized the hand of God, the blessing of God, and the presence of God on David and with David, and so he lets David have his day.
We should learn from Jonathon because there is always going to be a David in our lives.
If you’re tempted to envy someone because of the position they hold, double your efforts to help that person succeed in that position. If envy creeps into your relationships with others because of their grades, their higher performance, their success with sports or relationships, or whatever, intentionally seek to do them some special good.
Do good to the one you’re tempted to envy. As scripture says, “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourself.” We count others better than ourselves not as a put-down to our gifts but as a defense against the cancer of envy.
Envy easily takes root in a distracted heart. Once a person starts to lose his or her sense of priorities in life, minor matters take on silly degrees of importance. That’s when we focus on what others have and what we don’t. Resentment and envy comes next.
If your feelings toward others are turning to envy, acknowledge what’s happening. Don’t make excuses and alibis, such as, “But he really is a jerk,”
or “she really doesn’t deserve all she has.” They may be true, but that’s their problem. Ours is envy.
Be honest. Name the green-eyed beast. Seek your salvation. Return to a tranquil mind. Find God’s gifts in your life and wrap your heart around them. Turn to give yourself spiritual comfort. And open your eyes to the blessings God has and continues to offer you.
Can the church say Amen?