Envy

Bill Brinkworth

Envy is defined in Webster’s 1828 dictionary as: “to feel uneasiness, mortification, or discontent at the sight of superior excellence, reputation, or happiness enjoyed by another; to fret or grieve one’s self at the real or supposed superiority of another and to hate him on that account.” It is wanting to be like someone else.

It is similar to covetousness, which is wanting the things that others have. Both envy and covetousness have something else in common. They are both sins in God’s eyes; and like any sin, they are harmful to the trespasser and to others.

This sin has taken its toll on many. Envy cost Saul his future. God had intended for the king to be the leader of the people of Israel for a much longer period, but because of his sin of envy, his role as ruler of the children of Israel was shortened. The sin slowly sneaked in and controlled King Saul’s life.

At first Saul admired David. It was the young boy that rid Saul’s kingdom of the daunting giant, Goliath. After David’s sling slew Goliath, Saul let the young man live in his palace with him. David ate with the king and his court. On occasion, he even played his harp for the ruler. In a short time, the young boy became a warrior in the king’s army and soon led it. Many enemies were killed because of the young leader’s courage and leadership. All was well until one day, during a triumphal parade after a victory, Saul overheard a simple song sung by some parade-watching women. They sang, “… Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”

The words of that little song ate at his heart. “Why they think David is a better warrior then I,” perhaps he thought. From that day on the sin of envy ruined the king. The control that sin had on him ultimately cost him his role as king and destroyed his testimony; as many saw him unleash his anger against David and even his own son. Envy claimed one more victim.

Joseph’s brothers also lived with the guilt of doing harm against Joseph, when envy entrapped them. They were envious that their little brother got a gift from their father that they did not get. Perhaps the words too many siblings feel entered their minds when their father gave Joseph a coat of many colors, “Dad likes him more than I.” Soon they had thrown Joseph into a pit. It was not long after that they sold their younger brother into slavery. Again envy ruled and reigned in decision-making.

Not only does the sin of envy hurt the doer, it harms others. David was innocently hurt by Saul’s commission of the sin, as was Joseph. Paul in New Testament times was envied by the Jewish leaders (Acts13:45); and because he was more popular than they, was the subject of their scorn and hatred. It was also envy that caused the religious to do away with Jesus (Matthew 27:18). Envy to be someone else or to have their power and popularity has snared too many.

Although it is very easy to let this sin creep into our thought processes, it can be avoided by remembering one thing. This deterrent thought is that we are what God created. We are created by God for his purpose. Each of us can do what no other can do.

We are the tools in God’s toolbox. If we were to look into the tool chest of a craftsman, we would see that no two of his tools were alike. They are all different because each of them is for a different task. A hammer is not better than the screwdriver, nor is the plane better than the pliers. Each can do something that the other cannot do. Together, they get many tasks completed.

Each of us has a purpose in God’s plans. None of us is better than another. None of us can do it all. Each of us needs each other to complete what God wants accomplished. We should not be envious of the “hammers” or “pliers” we see doing something in this world. We should, however, be content with what we are. We should not want to be someone else, but we should want to be the best “screwdriver” or whatever tool God has created us to be for His glory. As the saying goes, “I am happy with who I am, because God don’t make no junk.” Do not be envious of who you are not, but be joyous for who you are.

“The man who keeps busy helping the man below him won’t have time to envy the man above him — and there may not be anybody above him anyway!”
— Henrietta Mears

 This article was featured in The Bible View #212.

Another supporting article can be found at: http://www.openthoumineeyes.com/Articles/GoodAndBad.htm.  

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