Saturday, January 22, 2011

Some thoughts on envy

This past weekend I spoke on envy. Envy is an interesting sin because it's sneaky.  People are often embarrassed to admit or acknowledge it because it feels a little Jr. High-ish. An overly simplified definition of envy is 'desire mixed with resentment.' Somebody close to you has experienced an advantage or benefit in life that you desire, and you also resent that they are enjoying it and you aren't.  That's envy.  It usually expresses itself in one of the following areas: money, possessions, position, and appearance. The main text I used was James 3:13-18.  Here are a few of the main points. 

1.  Envy is the result of a fallen heart and mind (3:13-15)

  • James places envy squarely in the category of "earthly wisdom" 
  •  It proves to be a heart issue because it can't be solved in the external ways that people usually attempt. It isn't solved simply by getting more.  If suddenly you had more, your envy would just shift to somebody else.  There are always a bigger fish. It is also not solved by blaming or distancing ourselves from the people we are envious of.  The problem isn't them - it's us - it's a heart that hasn't been fully changed by God.
  • It is also an issue of the mind.  In order to conquer envy -our minds need to be renewed and transformed (see Romans 12:1-2)
  • Dr. Archibald Hart says “We cannot control our emotions directly, but we can influence how we are FEELING by changing our THOUGHTS.”

2.  With envy comes chaos (3:16)
  •  Envy will never produce harmony or love because it’s proud, self-seeking, self-serving, self-indulgent.  It destroys intimacy, it destroys love, it destroys unity, it destroys fellowship, it brings discord, it brings absolute chaos.
  •  It brings personal chaos - things like emotional restlessness, depression, consumerism and debt, prayerlessness. 
  •  It also brings relational chaos - it causes a distancing and pulling away from others, gossip and slander, and secretly rejoicing when the other person fails.
  •   Envy is actually the sin that got Jesus killed (Matthew 27:18). It causes people to do all sorts of crazy things. 

3.  The antidote to envy is Peace (3:17-18)
  •  Peace with God - Really, you're not upset with the person you're envious of - you're upset with God. At its heart envy says "God owes me."  When you have the guts to get on your knees and say, “God I think you ripped me off,” is when you will begin the process of getting envy under control.  
  •  Peace with others - when James uses the word 'peace' in this passage - he is not talking about 'inner tranquility' like we think of peace.  He is talking about a  socially oriented drive that sought and valued harmonious living. More than just being happy with what they have, James is calling his readers to obsess about something larger and more noble than their neighbor’s property, or status, or spouse. Then there will be no room left in our hearts for envy.
I'm looking forward to another great weekend at Grace as Pastor Al closes out our series on "FEAR"


Paul Cobb said...

Thanks for that word, Derek.
PEOPLE DO NEED TO SEE JESUS IN US... not our envy - May we be Jesus in our words and actions - "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4

Erica said...

thank you pastor Derek.

Erica said...
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