“Root Of All Envy”
By Pastor Jerry Donovan
What gifts has God given you that make you unique? What are ways he’s provided for you? You are unique. God made you special. There’s nobody like you. He made the mold, and then he broke it. You are not comparable to anybody else. If you do start comparing, it’s always going to lead to one of two sins: pride or envy. When you compare yourself to others, you’re either going to think “I’m doing better than them,” and you get full of pride, or “They’re doing better than me,” and you get full of envy. Pride and envy are both sins.
Jesus told a parable concerning envy in the Gospel of Matthew about the workers in the vineyard:” When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, “Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hire and go on to the first.”
Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, “These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.”
He replied to the one speaking for the rest, “Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?”
Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first. Matthew 20:7-16 The Message.
Comparing is the root of all envy. The key to overcoming envy is to stop comparing yourself to others. And it was the first mistake made in the parable of the vineyard workers. The ones who were hired last, came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. In other words, they started making comparisons: “Look what they’re getting. So we’re going to get more. We deserve more.”
The Bible says over and over again to never compare yourself to anybody. Envy occurs when you don’t really know someone well. You can see a person’s strengths and successes from a distance, but it’s only when you get up close that you see their hurts, hang-ups, and habits. Everybody has hidden pain. When you’re looking at people from a distance, it’s a whole lot easier to miss their fears and faults.
There’s no better way to get to know people up close and personal than in a small group. There was a woman with multiple sclerosis and lupus who told her small group, “If we all put our problems in a big pile at the center of this room and looked at them, at the end of the evening we’d probably all take our problems back and go home.” When you get to know people closely, you don’t envy them. But you can learn how to pray for them.
Envy isolates us. Fellowship binds us together and helps us get to know each other so we can stop comparing ourselves to others.