I want their spouse. I want their job. I want their notoriety. I want their well-behaved kids. I want their pedigree. I want their house. I want their influence. I want their skills. I want their discretionary income. I want their gifting in preaching. I want their church because it’s bigger and it brings more money or I want their church because it’s smaller and has fewer problems (seemingly). I want the easiness of their circumstances. I want their good physical health.
I want…I want…I want.
Simply put → I want that person’s life.
Have you ever said that phrase out loud or thought it quietly in the deep recesses of your heart? “I want that person’s life. I don’t want my life or some sliver of my life…I want their life or some aspect of their life.” Wow. It sounds bad, doesn’t it? It sounds miserable, doesn’t it?
Ever been there? I have and I suspect you have too. In fact, it seems as if envy raises its ugly head incessantly in my life and it feels as if envy is related in some capacity to each of my struggles with sin. I believe it feels that way because it is.
And envy is different than many of the sins we commit, in that, in the moment, envy doesn’t bring satisfaction. Envy further perpetuates the misery of an individual, whereas other sins bring temporary fulfillment. Take lust for example. In the moment, you receive satisfaction (though fleeting) with pictures on a screen, the text, email, snapchat, or Facebook messenger exchange with someone, the actual physical interaction with someone — you get the idea. But the alluring nature of lust is that you can be temporarily satisfied only to leave you wanting for more or deeply despondent that you’ve once again gone down that path. Or think about anger. In the moment, your whole person is devoted to the injustice that has been thrust upon you; you seethe with disdain that comes forth in an either icy-cold or red-hot posture. All of you is convinced about the rightfulness of your perspective; it feels good because in the moment most sin does feel good. But it’s fleeting. Remember: sin promises much but delivers very little, in the short term and the long-term.
But envy is different. There is no satisfaction in the moment, just more and more dissatisfaction. In talking with some friends this morning, I believe envy is lurking behind much of my own heart, as well as the hearts of many of my peers and even people to whom I read, listen to, and have been influenced by.
It takes a lot of courage to admit envy is ruling your heart’s affections. It takes a lot of courage to bring someone into your life that can help you move from an envious posture to a joyful and content posture. But why is envy so dangerous? Why should we be on guard concerning envy? And where do we take our envy, meaning, what do we do with it or who do we take it to? If it’s evil, damaging, and sinful (and it is and you and I both know it) then how do we walk in victory over envy?
Great questions! Here are several resources on envy that I want to pass on to you:
First, here’s a sermon by Timothy Keller on “The Evil of Envy.” Undoubtedly, God will use Keller’s sermon to help you see the dangers of envy, the subtleties of envy in your life and subsequently, what you need to do with it. It was illuminating and helpful, even though it was painful at times.
Second, here are two more helpful, gospel-centered sermons on envy. You can listen and watch here.