Ending Envy

     You might remember the classic film, Toy Story.  In it we see Woody, Andy’s favorite toy, struggling with envy because the new Buzz Lightyear action figure removes him from the top spot among the toys.  Woody even resorts to trying to hurt Buzz.  While most of us would not go that far, we do tend to struggle with envy, jealousy and coveting what others have.  It could look more like Robert Barone’s constant jealousy of his brother Ray in the comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond.”  Several years ago, I saw the ugliness of envy in my own heart when I slid off an icy road in Fairbanks and while I waited for the tow truck, scrolled Facebook.  Of course, at that moment a friend had posted pictures of a family vacation in Hawaii. I have never gone to Hawaii; let’s just say I was not happy for them.  The essence of envy is that it resents God’s goodness in other people’s lives and forgets God’s blessings in our own. 
     The ugly sin of envy is woven through the Bible with dramatic, even violent results.  In the first human family Cain is envious of God’s pleasure with Cain’s brother Abel’s sacrifice.  He is so corrupted by envy that he kills Abel.  The first king of Israel, Saul, loved David his servant, loyal soldier and even son in law but when the women of Israel chanted “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands,” it all changed.  Saul became insanely jealous and even tried to kill David.  In the New Testament, King Herod is so jealous of the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah that he ordered the murder of every little boy in Bethlehem.  Envy can lead to deep depravity.  Socrates called envy ‘the ulcer of the soul.’” (Seven, Jeff Cook, 55). Most of us do not act on envy in such malicious ways, but we do sometimes damage relationships because of it.  So how do we end envy in our lives?
     First, dig into the root issue.  We are not envious of everyone or everything others have.  Get curious about what triggers envy in you.  A woman who is envious of women who have a great father is struggling because she never had that blessing.  She needs to grieve that loss; this will help her move past the envy. 
      Second, remember God’s command.  We have a tendency to think that envy or coveting is no big deal, but God includes this destructive desire in His list of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:17).  This command should spark conviction in us and lead to repentance.
      Third, stop comparing.  A practical step would be to seriously limit our time on social media.  Social media tends to undermine contentment with our lives.  It compares our view of the behind-the-scenes aspect of our lives with the air brushed, highlight reel of the lives of others.    
     Fourth, rest in God’s sovereignty.  God loves us and desires what is best for us.  So the position, gifts, talents and opportunities that we have are graciously given by Him for our good.  He wants us to flourish and thrive; therefore, He sends or allows the events in our lives to work together for our good.   
     Fifth, practice gratitude.  What are the good gifts that God has given us? Make sure we count our blessings.  In Luke 17 Jesus heals 10 lepers, radically changing their lives.  Only one of the ten returned to say thank you to Jesus.  I encourage you to “be the one,” stop and say thank you to God for the many ways he has blessed you.
     Let’s be people who celebrate the blessings, giftings, and opportunities God gives others. 
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church