Gypped. None of us like that feeling. As kids, we feel this way when another kid gets a bigger portion of cake than us. Or as a teen, when a sibling gets some form of preferential treatment. As adults, we feel this way when we are overlooked, underpaid, or taken advantage of. We feel “gypped“. We feel as though we’ve been had, swindled, and cheated. But Jesus calls it out at the root. Jesus called it “envy”. We’ve heard the phrase, “She was green with envy.” Envy is that feeling you get when another is advanced, has success, or has more possessions than you, and you don’t like it. You wish it was you.
Jesus tells a story about a man who hired some workers at various times during the day and yet pays them all the same. Those who had worked a full day for the same pay as those who had worked less, “began to grumble against the landowner“. Complaining Reveals Character. The workers had been dealt with fairly, and had nothing to say about their pay… until they saw others who worked less, get the same pay. They protested when others were dealt with generously. The landowner asked, “Are you envious because I am generous?”
Why are we like this? Why can’t we be happy with what God has given us and not be so concerned about everyone else?
Jesus wants to develop in us a heart that rejoices for others’ successes and is not envious.
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love is always patient; love is always kind; love is never envious or arrogant with pride.”
1 Peter 2:1-2 says, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow.”
Why is this so important? Because if we are not careful, this feeling will drive us to make decisions outside the will of God. Can you imagine someone dear to you accepting Christ on their deathbed, and you being envious that she made it to heaven after you spent your entire life serving Jesus? Can you imagine saying, “That is so not fair. I’ve spent my entire life suffering for Jesus, and missing out on all the fun, and then, poof, just like that, she gets eternal life?” Well, first of all, if you are living in freedom with Christ and not religiosity, it’s the funnest life ever, and you are not missing out on a thing! If you feel that you are missing out on all the fun, that is a sure sign that you have a lil religious in you, and are not experience real relationship with Jesus! Now, yes, there are some things that we do not need to participate in, but those things are not “fun” anyway! SO, why is it that we can accept and even rejoice when a person comes to Christ at no matter what season in life, but can’t seem to do it any other time?
Jesus reminds the disciples again that He is going to be betrayed, crucified, and on the third day rise again. I wondered why this was nestled in here. Maybe because Jesus was reminding them that after He goes, they need to stick together and not let jealousy and envy find its way into their fellowship. Maybe we need to do the same in our churches today.
Then, James and John’s mother makes a request for her boys to get preferential treatment. And what does it say the others did? “They were indigent with the two brothers!” Look how quickly envy jumped in. Like a poison, it quickly caused damage to the group, when Jesus had just forewarned and taught them not to make that leap, not to drink that poison.
How are you on the envy thing? How do you overcome it? I overcome it by being thankful. Gratitude for what I do have, instead of envious about what I don’t have, takes the place of envy.
KINGDOM LIVING REJOICES IN OTHER’S SUCCESSES
May God mold our hearts to be free from envy and free to be happy for other’s successes.