The Book of Proverbs

Lesson 7 - “Eliminating Envy”

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

We have been doing a study from the book of Proverbs. We’ve already looked at Solomon’s request for an understanding heart to rule God’s people, then we looked at “Help for Hotheads” the scriptural answer to anger management, we saw why we need to be “Mastering Our Mouths,” we saw how to find fantastic friends, we learned about the worst of all sins-Pride and leaving laziness. Today we are going to look at eliminating envy.

Tonight we are going to look at one of our most destructive emotions—envy. Have you ever heard the phrase, "They turned green with envy"? We often associate the color green with envy. To be "green with envy" means we are so consumed with envy we are sick at heart and it shows. That's why envy has been called "the green-eyed monster." Proverbs 14:30 says, “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.”

This means there is a direct relationship between our emotional and physical health. The attitudes of our hearts have a direct impact on our physical well-being. Envy causes us to rot emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Envy also is one of the main reasons for excessive personal debt because we want to "keep up with the Joneses." We go into debt for status symbols such as larger homes, nicer vehicles, and designer clothes. But, when we almost catch up with "the Joneses," they refinance and buy more stuff.

What is the difference between jealousy and envy? When we're jealous, we feel rejected and threatened, thinking a rival is taking away someone's love. When we're envious, we simply want what someone else has. When we're jealous, we hate our rival; but when we're envious, the person doesn't matterwe just want what he or she has. However, envy and jealousy are similar in many other ways because they both cause us to become irrational and vicious. Also, they are sometimes used synonymously in the Bible. Therefore, we will consider them together under the term "envy."

-First, let’s look at the results of envy.

Envy (or jealousy) produces at least four horrible results in our lives.

-Envy ruins relationships. Envy is one of the most evil and diabolical of human emotions. Proverbs 27:4 says, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?”

Envy is worse than anger or wrath because those two emotions are short lived. But envy smolders within a person until it breaks forth to consume its object. Envy is only satisfied when its object is gone. This is why envy ruins relationships. You probably know family members or best friends who have had their relationships destroyed because of envy, or jealousy.

-Envy causes mean motives. In some ways envy is worse than pride. Pride assumes that self is number one. Envy intuitively knows that self is not number one but seeks to use every means possible to become number one. James 3:16 says, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

-Envy sinks self-esteem. Envy is an expression of inferiority. Envy says to the world "I'm insecure." Envy says, "I don't like myself." Envy causes us to continually compare ourselves to the person we envy. We become so preoccupied with the person we envy that we lose sight of who we are and what we possess. There is always someone better, more successful, more talented, smarter, richer, more attractive, etc.

In 2 Corinthians 10:12 Paul said, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”         

Paul's critics were telling everyone how important they were, but Paul says he would not compare himself to them or anyone else. The Bible teaches that comparing ourselves, or what we have, to someone else is not wise; it is foolish, because envy sinks self-esteem.

-Envy blinds us to our blessings. If we are envious, we cannot enjoy our blessings. A classic example of this is Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul became envious of David, a young shepherd boy. He was envious of David because David had become more popular than Saul. As the women welcomed their returning heroes, they sang, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. In response Saul was very angry because the saying displeased him...

Let’s take at look at 1 Samuel 18:6-9, “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.”

The word eyed means to watch with suspicion. Saul's jealousy blinded him to his wonderful blessings. Saul was hand-picked by God to be the first king of Israel because he was a gifted leader and a great warrior. He had all the natural attributes for success; plus, he had God working in his life. But because of envy, Saul was blind to his blessings.

Saul's envy led him away from God, and he and his sons were killed in battle. The Philistines cut off his head, put his armor in a pagan temple, and put his headless body on public display. It was the humiliating end of a man with the seeds of greatness in him. The story of Saul clearly reminds us that envy blinds us to our blessings.

We said that the results of envy is that it ruins relationships, causes mean motives, sinks self-esteem, and blinds us to our blessings. Now let’s look at,

The Remedy for Envy,

The Bible commands us to get rid of all... envies.  1 Peter 2:1-2, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

In order to obey that command, we must do three things:

A. Admit your sin. Admit you have envy, or jealousy, in your heart and confess it as the horrible sin it is. Quit lying to yourself and to God.

B. Avoid comparing. This is the root of all envy, so stop comparing yourself to anyone and stop comparing what you have to what others have. Envy causes us to ignore God's blessings in our own lives, and we lose our happiness. The Bible tells us God gives us riches and wealth and causes us to enjoy them. Ecclesiastes 5:19 says, “Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.”

C. Appreciate your assets. Be grateful for what you have. Remember, envy blinds us to our blessings. To eliminate envy, we must appreciate our assets, and I'm not referring just to success in the workplace or material possessions. We need to remember what words of Jesus in Luke 12:15, “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

We need to appreciate our health, marriages, children, and especially our salvation in Christ. We should also appreciate the gifts and talents God has given us that enable us to fulfill His purpose for our lives. How about you? Are you struggling with envy, or jealousy, tonight? Maybe you envy a brother, a sister, or an in-law. Maybe it's someone at work or school. To eliminate envy, you must admit your sin, avoid comparing, and appreciate your assets.

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