No Trash, Just Truth! - Proverbs 9:10 Ministries

Episode 86 - Slaying the Green-Eyed Monster

May 10, 2021
No Trash, Just Truth! - Proverbs 9:10 Ministries
Episode 86 - Slaying the Green-Eyed Monster
Show Notes Transcript

Who of us hasn't had to deal with jealousy before? Whether it's that we are envious of something someone else has that we don't, or that we don't want someone else to have something we don't have, or maybe we don't want someone to be happier than us - we've all been there! Most of us know envy is sinful, but how do we get rid of it. Do we console ourselves with the fact that someone else's life is not as good as it appears? Do we remind ourselves there are many less fortunate than ourselves? Do we make a list of things we are grateful for? Or do we do something constructive for someone less fortunate to change our perspective? We've all probably heard all of these advices, but are any of them Biblical? Tune in and find out!

Episode 86 - Slaying the Green-Eyed Monster Envy 

         Welcome back! Today we are going to talk about a subject that everyone has to deal with. And, there’s a reason for that – this lies at the root of the first sin of mankind. Our subject today is envy or jealousy

        Doesn’t matter what you call it – envy, jealousy, or as some say, self-pity – it definitely is an ugly monster, and it can have huge effects on our lives and our relationships. But first, let’s clear up something people ask about sometimes when talking about jealousy. In Deuteronomy 6:14-15 it says, “You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—” sometimes people are confused about the Bible saying God is jealous.

        Right! Today, most of us define jealousy and envy the same, in a negative way – we define them both as covetousness. But, jealousy used to imply something different than envy, and it had a positive connotation. Jealously used to be defined as “vigilant in guarding a possession.” It came with the notion there was some sort of rivalry or unfaithfulness that was a threat to that possession

        Much like a husband-and-wife relationship. If someone else flirtatiously interferes, then there’s jealousy because it’s a threat to the relationship.

        Exactly. And God seeks to protect his own honor, much like a husband would. He demands and desires the people He’s saved to have absolute loyalty to Him. That’s why He doesn’t allow worship of anything else. It’s why the Israelites were to destroy or expel anyone or anything pagan when they entered the Promised Land like Exodus 34:13-15 says, “You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice,”

        AND Godly jealousy is also defined as ardor meaning to have enthusiasm, passion, or zeal which is defined, “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.” God pursues His people and zealously protects this relationship of love that He has with them, and does what He must to keep it intact.

        He sent His Son, Jesus, to do that very thing! So, godly jealousy is a good thing, and God’s people can be jealous for God’s glory too, when they see other believers not being loyal to God. One example is in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 11:2 where he tells them, “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”

        So now that we’ve cleared that up for anybody who wondered about God’s jealousy, let’s get into our discussion about the envious, covetousness type of jealousy that’s sinful.

        Let’s start by reading how a few dictionaries define envy. Webster’s defines it as, “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” Here’s another, “a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck.” (we don’t believe in luck; that’s the dictionary’s definition.) 

        Both envy and jealousy mean “to covet.” The tenth commandment found in Deuteronomy 5:21 says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house or field, or his manservant or maidservant, or his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Someone has something better than you or they have something you don’t have at all, and you want to have it too … whether it’s money, or looks, or a position at the church, or a boyfriend, or whatever! It can be almost anything! 

        It played a part in original sin. Satan tempted Eve by telling her that God had something that she didn’t – the knowledge of good and evil. There’s more to what he told her than that, but it’s obvious that she didn’t like it that God had knowledge that she and Adam didn’t. 

        Through that temptation, Eve’s gaze was turned away from what God had given them and their focus suddenly becomes what they didn’t have. So, they ate from the tree. And, it affected relationships!!!

        Eve’s and God’s, Adam’s and God’s, and Adam and Eve’s relationship between each other. 

        Jealousy can have a huge impact on our relationships. In first Samuel 16, we see David serving King Saul, soothing his spirit by playing the harp. In verse 21 of the chapter it says, “David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly.” However, a little later, in chapter 18 after David has killed Goliath, we’re told, “As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” 

        King Saul is so jealous that from this time on he tries to kill David. The truth didn’t matter to King Saul. The truthful reality of the situation is that King Saul had already let the Philistine army into territory that belonged to God’s people, and it was at a strategic place for the Philistines to continue overtaking the land of the hill country. Now at this location with their champion, Goliath. Saul could have been Israel’s champion, but he didn’t do anything. It was his job to accept the battle. But he wasn’t trusting God to win the battle. And when David arrived on the scene where the giant Goliath was, King Saul was sitting waiting for someone else to do something. 

        We can be jealous of someone, regardless of the truth of the situation. Sometimes others have things we don’t because they’ve made an effort that we haven’t. 

        It happens all the time. I want to point out that in first Samuel there’s a contrast of two different relationships with David. King Saul’s son, Jonathan, is next in line for kingship but recognizes that David will be king instead of him. He loves David, like he loves himself, as we’re told many times in 1 Samuel. And he’s perfectly fine with being David’s right hand man. That’s a sign of true humility and true love for another!

        It is! Envy is really bad! Saul was envious because David was getting more notoriety and it led Saul into trying to kill him. Let’s look at another example of jealousy with a desire to kill. This is from King Solomon’s time. It’s found in 1 Kings 3:16-28. We won’t read the whole thing, but in a nutshell, two women living in the same house both had babies. During the night, one mother’s son died when she laid on him. She woke up first and swapped out the babies while the other mother slept. When the sleeping mother woke, she knew it was not her baby that was dead. They go before King Solomon, both claiming the live baby is theirs. 

        Right! And being wise, King Solomon says, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” 

        Jealousy can not only make you want something someone else has; it can make you NOT want them to have it if you can’t also have it! In this case, a child!!! The woman would rather see the living child killed rather than see the other mother still have it!

        I think this might be the most common way jealousy plays out – we don’t want someone else having what we don’t have. Jealousy is bad! It’s rotten to the core! Let’s give a few verses about it. James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” Proverbs 14:30 says, “A tranquil heart give life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”

        The book of James talks a lot about envy and living out our faith. In chapter 4:2-3 it says, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

        Our focus is to be on God and what He wants from us, while in our current circumstances, to further His Kingdom and bring Him glory. We can be in any circumstances, good or bad, and get this terribly wrong. 

        Let’s talk about the cause of our circumstances. GOD is sovereign over all of our circumstances, and yet, we have human responsibility. So, when we see someone that has more than we do, or who has something we wish we had, we need to keep both aspects of this in mind.

        We do. Isaiah 45:7 says, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.” And yet, Proverbs 20:4 says, “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.”

        The Israelites were told that it’s God who gives the power to get wealth. It’s God Who chose who was going to be King over Israel. It’s God who causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. And yet, verses like the one from Proverbs you read and Proverbs 10:4 and 21:5 and other verses show us the human responsibility side of things. It’s not an either/or – it’s BOTH! 

        We have to recognize God’s sovereignty in our position and accept that. We have to get to where we’re content. And, we have to recognize where we have failed or could have done something different to make our situation better, and instead of being envious of others, try to make our own situation better.  

        Yes. Let’s talk about some common words of advice we hear given to someone who is jealous or envious of another. Like for instance, one pretty typical answer is, “Remember, things are not always what they appear to be behind closed doors.”

        That gets used a lot. When someone is jealous of somebody else, the first thing many people go to is to tell them (or try to reassure them) that they shouldn’t feel jealous because it looks good on the outside but in reality, it’s probably not nearly as good as it looks. 

        We hear that when people win the lottery. Someone will win the lottery and then invariably you’ll hear a comment saying that “most of those people who win the lottery’s in the end are more unhappy than they were before they won.”

        I’ve heard people say that, but I don’t think that’s true! I think it can be true, but we shouldn’t placate someone with something that might not be true, just to try to make them feel better. So … you’re struggling financially, with a bunch of bills piling up, and someone’s telling you it wouldn’t be better if you had the money to pay them off, like the guy who just won the lottery has the ability to. That makes no sense. And, it can make you begin to hope that the person isn’t happier! It’s all predicated on the same thing … “I don’t want someone to be happier than me!” 

        That’s a direct contrast to loving others. 1 John 4:19-20 says, “We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

        Right. It’s like saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Sometimes the grass REALLY IS greener on the other side! You’re seeing the truth of life correctly! And, guess what, you have to learn to deal with that truth. 

        Philippians 2:1-11 comes to mind about this. It says, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

          If we can truly get to the point where we count others more significant than ourselves, it’s a good step toward not being envious of them. Another answer people give when someone is envious is that “there are others a lot less fortunate than you.” Sometimes advice is given to actually make a list of people who are more unfortunate than you. That’s repulsive

        This is about comparing yourself to others in an attempt to get over feeling envious.  Is this good Christian advice for helping someone get rid of jealousy?  

        No. Because it’s reinforcing us to make this jealousy thing all about us. We’re still acting like the world instead of people who’ve been saved by Jesus! 1 Corinthians 3:3 says, “For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” And Proverbs 14:30 says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”

        What about the advice to “stop and remind yourself of something you have to be thankful for.” 

        Again, although to be thankful for things is a good thing, if it’s an attempt to get rid of jealousy, the focus is back on us. It’s basically saying, “Give yourself a little pep talk!” It doesn’t get to the root. Same with, “Start helping out others who are less fortunate and by doing that it will give you a different perspective.” And, this one: “Jesus isn’t comparing you to others, so why are you comparing yourself?”

        That is an answer often given to people who are jealous of the way other people look. No. Jesus isn’t comparing you to others, and He knows your situation. In fact, it was God Who formed you in. your mother’s womb according to Psalm 139:13!

        One thing we mentioned already: some refer to it as “self-pity.” 

        That’s not a bad term for it. We feel sorry for ourselves because our circumstances aren’t as good as others’. But Christians are supposed to learn contentment in all circumstances. In Philippians 4:11-12 the Apostle Paul says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

        Envy is SINFUL.  We can be envious of others, or we can turn our focus to God, ask for forgiveness for it, and say, “What do you want me to do with what you’ve given me?”

        Going back to Eve and the first sin, through temptation, Satan turned Eve’s focus from what God had given her to something He hadn’t. Then he convinced her that by disobeying God and eating the fruit, she would have not only all of the things that God had given her, but also what God He hadn’t

        Envy causes us to stop focusing on what we do have and focus on what we don’t have. But we don’t have to give in to the temptation. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

        James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Coveting is sin. When we sin, there’s only one thing we can do and that is to confess our sin to God and turn from it. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

        And that’s key to mortifying any sin. Repent and turn from it. Cooperate with the Holy Spirit to kill it! One of the main steps in doing it is to remember who we are – a NEW CREATION in Christ! Paul talks about the fact that we’re no longer dominated by sin. We can say “NO” to the temptation that lures our gaze in a direction it shouldn’t go, and we can stay focused on our own stuff.

        First, we have to admit what we are doing that’s sinful. Are we dissatisfied with something that we can’t change, but that God put in our lives? Then we have to repent of our dissatisfaction with God’s plan, turn from that dissatisfaction, and ask God what He wants us to do with our circumstances.

        Second, we need to be truthful to ourselves (and maybe someone else who will hold us accountable) for our human responsibility’s role in our situation. If there’s sin that led us there, we need to repent and turn from that sin. Don’t be like King Saul who was jealous of David, when in fact Saul had not done what he should have done himself! And if it’s something that wasn’t caused by sin, then we need to repent of our dissatisfaction and pray for contentment.

        Third, remember that Christ died for our sin. Don’t just remember that the penalty has been paid but remind ourselves that a penalty had to be paid. I’m not saying to stay feeling guilty, but I say that in hopes that the realization of our rescue from God’s wrath will result in thankfulness that leads to different behavior!

        Fourth, do whatever you can to stay away from the temptation. Here’s where some practical ideas might come in. Get off of social media or at least lessen the amount of time you spend on it if it’s causing a problem. 

        It is true that people are almost always putting their best foot forward on social media. While it’s true that we should be able to be content regardless of this, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking things off of our plate that are temptations to make us go back to that sin. 

        If you have people in your life who have things that you are envious of, but that you get to enjoy at times, thank God for those people who let you enjoy those things; and thank God that you have people in your life who have things to share that give you pleasure and enjoyment.

        Stay busy. Trying to grasp for the things that we don’t have or constantly desiring them and never being able to get them is not fulfilling! What might happen if we looked at what we had – the small amount of money we have, the position we’re called to at church that seems kind of mundane, the job we do on a daily basis – and we asked God to help us use what we already have for His glory? 

        Sounds like a good start. When we focus on what we don’t have and what others do have, it robs us of the ability to see that God is good, all the time! It can cause us to stop taking care of things God’s already given us and leave those things in ruins instead of using them for kingdom work. We need to be content. So how do we become content?

        In Philippians 4:11-13, the Apostle Paul says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” I think Paul tells us the way in the last line … through the strength of Christ. Relying on God, in other words.

        Paul was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming conceited. Most commentators think this was some sort of illness. Paul pleaded with God to take it away. But the answer he got was, ““My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

The only way to true contentment like Paul had is to have intimacy with God and rely on His strength. We will never become content by making list of the things that we have that we’re thankful for, nor by comparing ourselves to people who have less. And it’s our weaknesses that showcase God’s power more than our strengths.

        But envy can really wreck our relationship with a God. 

        It can. I’ve heard people express their anger towards Him because they feel their prayers are not being answered, or because they’re jealous of other people because everyone else always seems to “have more.” We have to come to grips with the fact that God is not a Marxist or a Socialist. He has not, and will not in this life at least, make all things equal in all ways for everyone. We know that because Deuteronomy 15:11 says, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land; that is why I am commanding you to open wide your hand to your brother and to the poor and needy in your land.”

        And Jesus reiterates that in Mark 14:7 where He says, “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.” Some people will have more money; some people have more gifts and talents; some people are better looking; and some are smarter; some will have more freedoms than others, just because of where God has placed them to live. You name it, and somebody somewhere has “better” than you.

        And that’s going to be true of believers and non-believers. Chris, some of this comes from believing false teachers and false memes as we’ve said over and over again. We can’t be believing the false teachings that tell you God‘s got your rescue coming! He’s already brought the most important rescue you need – Jesus! Jesus came to rescue His people from God’s wrath!

         Are we constantly praying for things that God is not bringing into our lives, and being mad about that? Are we rejecting the life that the sovereign God, creator of everything gave to us? If so, we need to repent and ask God to help us focus on what He has given us and ask Him how to use it for His glory to the best of our abilities. 

        And we’re gonna have to do that over and over again sometimes to kill this green-eyed monster called envy. There’s no easy way out of this. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” If God plans each of our lives before even one day of them happens, then what are we saying when we want to reject what he has given us because we would rather have what he’s given somebody else? 

        These are the tough things we have to grapple with so we can get to the type of contentment that Paul had in every situation, even in jail and even with a thorn in his side that wouldn’t quit. 

        The one piece of advice most of us has heard that probably is the true of any is “On your deathbed what you had in this life will not matter.”

        It won’t! Jesus said as much in the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. He said, ““Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

        There’s a poem by C. T. Studd about where our focus is to be. It’s called “Only One Life.” (we can either recite it, or reference it, or just read a few lines then reference it; doesn’t matter to me)

Only One Life
C.T. Studd

Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way;
 Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
 Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
 Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgment seat;
 Only one life,’ twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
 Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;
 Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
 Each with its days I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
 Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
 When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
 Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
 Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
 Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn;
 Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
 Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, “Thy will be done”;
 And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say ’twas worth it all”;
 Only one life,’ twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

        And that’s where we have to end today.