I. Most of us understand that it is wrong to be envious.
A. Though most of us have only a vague idea what envy means.
B. Often we confuse it with jealousy.
II. The meaning of envy
A. “To look with ill-will, to look against.”
B. “Chagrin or discontent at the excellence or good fortune of another; resentful, begrudging.”
C. The difference between jealousy and envy
1. We are jealous of our own; we are envious of another man’s possessions or good fortune - Gen 26:14
2. Jealousy fears to lose what it has; envy is pained at seeing what others have.
3. The difference is seen in Deut. 32:21. (Fulfilled in Rom. 11:11 with salvation coming to the Gentiles)
D. It is sometimes translated “an evil-eye” as in Mark 7:21-22
III. Envy kills
A. Envy pains and destroys a man like a knife in the chest.
B. It splits churches and causes murders.
1. Mt 27:18 - Jesus was killed because of envy!
C. Envy destroys our friendships, ruins our business, and dwarfs our souls.
D. Prov. 14:30 - Envy rots the bones. It destroys your health.
E. Job 5:2 - Envy slays a foolish man.
1. A Greek story: “The citizens of a town erected a statue to one of their number who was a celebrated champion in the public games. However, one young man, a rival of the honored athlete, was so envious that he vowed he would destroy the statue. Every night he went out into the darkness and chiseled at the statue’s base. By undermining it’s foundation he hoped to make it look like the statue fell of its own accord. One night, it did fall -- but it fell as the young man was chipping at its base. It fell on top of the man and killed him.
2. As with many sins, the effects of the sin are not noticed immediately. They gradually eat at the soul until it is destroyed.
IV. We should not envy ...
A. Don’t envy the wicked - Prov. 23:17-18, 24:19-20
1. Surely you have better prospects than to envy a man facing God’s wrath.
2. Ps. 37:1-2 - The wicked will be cut down by God. Why should be envious of this?
3. Envying the wicked of his prosperity and apparent happiness does not make us happy or rich.
4. It does not add one dollar to our assets, but it does bankrupt our soul.
5. Ps. 73:1-19
B. Don’t envy our friends
1. Joseph’s brothers were envious of him - Gen. 37:11
a. Their envy led them to plot their own brother’s death and eventually sold him into slavery. Can you imagine selling a member of your family into a lifetime of slavery?
b. Eventually, they were forced to recognize Joseph’s superior position that God granted him.
c. Envy is a boomerang-like weapon that hurts the attacker more than the victim. "If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang" [Charley Reese]
2. I Cor. 13:4 - Love does not envy
a. The envious man feels that other’s fortune is his misfortune, that their success is his failure, and that their blessing is his curse.
b. Only love for our fellow man is a cure for this disease.
c. Rom. 12:15 - Share each other’s fortune and misfortune.
d. Mt. 20:1-16 - The first workers were envious of other’s fortune instead of rejoicing in their good fortune.
e. How do we behave when friends get better grades, get a better promotion, or is the recipient of some good fortune?
V. Let us recognize the danger of envy and remove it from our lives - Gal. 5:26
A. Where envy exists, you can find every kind of sin - James 3:16