Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Destructive Power of Envy

What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." Romans 7:7 NKJV
Of all the sins Paul could have mentioned, it was covetousness (or envy). You may argue that maybe that was Paul's sin, but we know better.  Paul was guilty of murder in that he consented to the deaths of Christians killed for their faith.  Paul was guilty of blasphemy in the horrible things he said about Jesus while he was persecuting Christians.  Paul even declared himself to be the chief of sinners.  But of all the sins he could have chosen, he chose envy to use as an example.  I think that is because envy is a source of all kinds of evil. 

Money may be the root of all kinds of evil, but envy is the water that nourishes that root.  Think about it, why would you need all that money if it was not because you envied what other people had.  We desire riches so that we can have whatever it is that we want.  We see someone living in a beautiful large home on the ocean.  We see someone driving a nice car.  We see someone who always has the latest and greatest gadgets.  We see people who go on lavish trips or dine at the finest restaurants.  We see it and we want it.  We envy it and it is that envy to drives our desire for more and more money. 

Of course greed is not the only wickedness that springs from envy.  Lying does as well.  Envy is the source of all kinds of dishonesty.  We lie on our taxes to get more money back.  We lie on a credit application to get approved for the car that we want.  We pad our resume to get the job that we desire.  Sometimes when we can not get the life that we envy, we just pretend that we already have it.  We lie to our friends and family making up fanciful stories about past and present parts of our lives that simply do not exist. While we can not have the life we desire, we can at least be treated by others as though we do.  Material goods or lifestyles are not the only things we envy.  We also envy power and so politicians will lie about all sorts of things to cheat people out of their votes in order to obtain that power. We also envy love and we make up many things about ourselves or our intentions to try and win over the one that we lust after. 

Envy is also a source of thievery. If we can not earn or lie our way into the things that we want, we just steal it.  Whether you are robbing a bank, shoplifting from a department store, stealing an identity, or mugging a stranger in the street, it is all just to get what you want.  In fact, it is envy in its purest form as you see something that someone else has and you just take it.  This even includes such wickedly evil things as rape.  Rape is envy in that you want someone that you can not have or something that person is not willing to give and so you just take it.  Maybe you do not consider yourself to be a criminal, but does that mean you are not guilty of theft before God?  Have you ever copied a song from someone else?  That is stealing.  Have you ever watched a pirated movie?   That is stealing.  Just because it is something accepted by society or that you have never been caught, it does not mean you are not guilty of theft. 

Envy is also results in murder.  In fact, the Bible tells us that the chief priests handed Jesus over to be executed out of envy.  Whether this be while robbing someone or some business or how you try to cover up another horrible crime you committed, that seed of envy has grown into murder.  Sometimes it is more direct. Sometimes you want something someone else has and the only way to get it is to commit murder.  Sadly, many people will go that far and there are many dead victims of the evil of envy.  Of course, someone does not have to be dead to make one guilty of murder.  Jesus told us that if we even hold anger in our hearts toward another, we are guilty of murder.  Have you or do you hold anger in your heart for something someone else has that you wanted?  If so, you are guilty of murder.

And, finally, envy is what drove Satan to wage war on God.  He was envious of what God had and was prideful enough to believe he deserved it.  The ensuing war cost heaven one third of its angels, swept away after being caught up in the lies of Satan.  Satan was cast down to earth, tempted Eve leading to the fall of man, tried to tempt our Lord into following him, and remains a thorn in all our sides even until today desiring nothing more than to drive us away from God.  Of course, this is not the only war that envy has caused.  How many wars have been fought and how many souls have been lost because one nation wanted something that another nation had.  How many lives have been lost because some leader wanted more land, more resources, more slaves, more followers, or more power? 

Of course envy does not start at any of these tragic ends, but if left unchecked it will go there.  Envy is like a cancer that will take on a life of its own if not dealt with early on.  I realize no one here imagines that they will lie, steal, kill, rape, or start a war to just get something that they want.  Neither did any one else who ended up there.  Even before any of the extremes I have mentioned, I have seen envy destroy friendships, relationships, marriages, families, businesses, churches, and even lives.  I urge you, be vigilant when those covetous feelings arise in your heart.  Take them captive and give them over to the Lord.  Learn to be content with what the Lord has given you and find joy in the blessings you already have.  I can tell you I have met many people who wish they would have done that but only learned too late just how wicked and strong envy can become.
Who [is] wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct [that] his works [are done] in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but [is] earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking [exist], confusion and every evil thing [are] there.  James 3:13-16 NKJV

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