Envy Part 1

I. Definitions. A. envy: trans. To feel displeasure and ill-will at the superiority of (another person) in happiness, success, reputation, or the possession of anything desirable; to regard with discontent another's possession of (some superior advantage which one would like to have for oneself). B. covetousness: 1. Strong or inordinate desire (of). Obs. 2. Inordinate and culpable desire of possessing that which belongs to another or to which one has no right. C. emulate: 1. trans. Of persons: To strive to equal or rival (a person, his achievements or qualities); to copy or imitate with the object of equalling or excelling. 4. trans. To desire to rival (a person, his fortune, achievements, etc.); hence, to be jealous of, envy, feel a grudge against. Obs. 1. Emulation may be positive. ROM 11:14. 2. Emulation may be negative. GAL 5:20. 3. The same Greek word translated “emulations” in GAL 5:20 is also rendered as various forms of “envy” in at least six places. E.g. ACT 13:45; 2CO 12:20. II. (JAM 4:5) Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? A. This is a general conclusion of Scripture's message, like GAL 3:22. B. Self-willed religion is vain (JAM 1:26) but not the warnings throughout Scripture against lust and envy. C. Lust of the eyes invited sin's entrance (GEN 3:6); envy invited the first murder. 1JO 3:12. D. This is the spirit of the world with which we should not be friends. JAM 4:4; 1CO 2:12. 1. Since “A friend loveth at all times...” (PRO 17:17), friendship with envy will always defend it. 2. Envy will thus be excused, rationalized or denied as a destructive, sinful force. 3. (JAM 3:14) But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. E. Since envy is activated by distinctions of preference, the only thing that could eliminate any possibility of envy in the corrupted creation would be uniform evenness in everything: abilities, opportunities, possessions, outcomes, etc. 1. This would be the madness of a communist utopia which has never worked, nor ever will work. 2. Man was commanded to subdue the earth (GEN 1:26) which requires effort and pain which we naturally resist. 3. God has ordained and blessed diligence which produces distinctions of success. ECC 9:10; PRO 12:24; ROM 12:11. 4. We must live in a world of distinguishing abilities, drives, achievements, risks and rewards, divine favors, etc. while not forgetting our Maker. 1CO 4:6-7; 1TI 6:17-19. 5. It is the policy of wicked manipulators to stir up class envy to foment strife and division in order to destabilize a society for political gain. Beware of any theory that advances equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. ECC 4:4. III. Envy is a work of the flesh which forbids inheritance of Christ’s kingdom. GAL 5:21. A. It is a corrupt part of the old man which is to be mortified by grace and conversion. GAL 5:26; TIT 3:3. B. Envy will always be a part of our Christian struggle until death or the resurrection but need not be our premature destruction. 1. There is a difference between a heart that struggles against envy and the heart that is “...full of envy...” (ROM 1:29). 2. If envy rules unrepented of in the heart it will not be unseen forever. 1TI 5:24-25. 3. Sooner or later, the envious heart will be revealed. LUK 6:45. 4. God judges the unseen envy that the brethren may not see (JER 11:20) but when seen openly, the church must separate from such. 5. Quench not the Spirit of God which convicts you of envy. 1TH 5:19. IV. Envy A. will not abide alone. PHIL 1:15; JAM 3:16. B. will generate outrageous conclusions. GEN 30:1. C. blind you to the reception of God’s words. 1PE 2:1-2. D. core you out. PRO 14:30 c/w PSA 112:1-10. 1. “My own misery I can endure, but not another man’s happiness.” (Unknown) 2. “There were two persons, one covetous and the other envious, to whom a certain person promised to grant whatever they should ask; but double to him who should ask last. The covetous man would not ask first, because he wished to get the double portion, and the envious man would not make the first request because he could not bear the thoughts of thus benefiting his neighbor. However, at last he requested that one of his eyes should be taken out, in order that his neighbor might lose both.” (likely fable, as related in Adam Clarke’s Commentary) E. can drive you to violence. PRO 27:4. 1. “One may avoid a sudden heat, as David escaped Saul's javelin, but when it grows, as Saul's did, to a settled envy, there is no standing before it; it will pursue; it will overtake. He that grieves at the good of another will be still contriving to do him hurt, and will keep his anger for ever.” (Matthew Henry on PRO 27:4) 2. “At the root of Cain's bitterness was the cancer of envy, before which no man can stand (PRO 27:4). Note that nothing more is needed to invoke the wrath of the ungodly than to be the object of God's favor. The very fact that Abel simply did what was right, and God having accepted it, was sufficient to expose Cain for what he truly was. Those who work righteousness are envied of their neighbor (ECC 4:4). The upright are an abomination to the wicked (PRO 29:27), and are hated by the bloodthirsty (PRO 29:10). The just, simply by fearing God, are a condemnation to the ungodly (MAT 12:41; HEB 11:7). Envy, left unchecked, as with Cain, will surely motivate the unjust to dispose of the just, thus eliminating the stigma. It moved the patriarchs against Joseph (ACT 7:9) Korah and company against Moses (PSA 106:16), the chief priests and elders against Christ (MAT 27:18); and the Jews against the apostles (ACT 17:5). Cain, unwilling to do well and acknowledge that God was just in His law and blessing and that Abel was just in his actions, chose to eliminate the competition (GEN 4:8).” (PWB, The Epistle of Jude, appendix, 12-6-92, edited)
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