by Rick Warren
“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder (unrest, rebellion) and every evil thing” (James 3:16a AMP).
The number one thing that holds you back from God’s purpose and mission for your life is a very subtle sin. It’s not lust or pride or anger. It’s not worry or fear or discouragement. In fact, you would probably never even think of it because it is so insidious we don’t realize its damaging effect on our lives.
When you envy other people, you are so fixated on what you don’t have and what you are not that you totally miss God’s plan for you.
You need to understand the four ways envy damages your life so that you can eliminate it from your life.
Envy denies your uniqueness. Psalm 139:13-16 says, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb …. Your workmanship is marvelous …. You watched me as I was … woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (NLT, second edition). Envy blinds you to your own giftedness and uniqueness. But God didn’t make you to be like somebody else. God made you to be you.
Envy divides your attention. You cannot follow God’s purpose and focus on other people at the same time. You get a divided allegiance, and then you don’t get anything done in your life. Jesus says in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”
Envy wastes your time and energy. Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 says, “I have also learned why people work so hard to succeed: it is because they envy the things their neighbors have. But it is useless. It is like chasing the wind …. Here is someone who lives alone. He has no son, no brother, yet he is always working, never satisfied with the wealth he has. For whom is he working so hard …? This is useless, too — and a miserable way to live” (GNT).
Envy leads to every other sin. Envy can destroy everything and everyone around you. The Bible says, “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder (unrest, rebellion) and every evil thing” (James 3:16a AMP). At the heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. Envy is a heart problem. Any time you envy you have gotten your worship misguided, because envy is a form of worship. It says, “I desire that. I want that. I love that. I want to live for that.” That’s called worship. And any time that item is not God, it becomes an idol. If you’re going to eliminate envy, you have to ask, “What am I worshiping? Am I worshiping God and his grace in my life? Or am I worshiping what I want from other people?”
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Talk It Over
In what small ways have you let envy creep into your heart? What have been the larger effects?
What can you acknowledge about yourself that will help you stop envy from blinding you to your giftedness?
How does your view of envy change when you consider that it is a form of idol worship?