•1 Corinthians 3:1–15
Questions to Consider
•What do you envy in others?
•What are the consequences of envy?
•How do you overcome envy? What is the opposite of envy?
•How is Jesus the answer to envy?
Plan of Action
•Overcoming envy involves being grateful for what God gives us. You have been blessed in ways that others are not. Make a list of special blessings God has put in your life.
•We might describe envy as misplaced zeal. What are you zealous for? Do you have a personal life vision or calling that God has placed upon you? If not, take some time today to write it out. Victory over envy starts with having a clear life purpose and knowing what God gives you to accomplish it.
Envy is an overwhelming desire to possess what others have. Envy takes many forms. We become envious of others for their position, accomplishments, social standing, and material possessions. Envy causes us to despise rather than rejoice in the good fortune of others. Nothing good comes from envy. Envy leads to sorrow. It leaves us with an empty feeling and a hole in our heart. In many cases it will even lead to greater misfortune. This was the case with King Saul in ancient Israel. After David defeated Goliath, we read how Saul grew envious of David:
As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on. 1 Samuel 18:6–9 (ESV)
Saul became envious of David for the praise David received. The real enemy was the Philistines, but envy caused Saul to make David into an enemy. David had defended the nation against the Philistines by defeating the Philistine champion. He was one of Saul’s greatest assets. But Saul despised the fact that David received greater praise.
Saul became intent on having David killed. Instead of using the military to protect against the Philistines, Saul used the military to pursue David. This became a major liability. It left Saul and his army vulnerable against the Philistines. Eventually, Saul was killed in a battle against the Philistines. It leaves one to wonder what would have happened if Saul had not been so envious of David. What would have happened if Saul had befriended David and used David to fight the real enemy?
Envy causes us to loose sight of the real enemy. We let our guard down and we are left vulnerable to the enemy. Envy makes us blind to the goodness of God in our life because we are consumed with what we don’t have.
It was out of envy that Jesus was handed over to the Romans to be crucified (see Matthew 27:18). The religious leaders were envious of how the people were following Jesus. They saw Jesus as a threat to their power and prestige. They would not rest until they had Jesus crucified. Because of envy they missed what God was doing. Rather than partnering with God on his mission, envy left them fighting against God. It was not a winning proposition.
Envy caused the religious leaders to despise God’s greatest blessing. Jesus was not one to envy, but one to embrace. The point is not to let envy blind you to the blessings God is pouring into your life. Who have you become envious of that God is calling you to embrace rather than despise?
God has placed a calling on your life. You have everything you need. More than you realize! Many times God provides for us through other people. They will be blessed in ways that you are not. At the same time you are blessed in ways they are not. Live with zeal for the mission of God. He will bring gifted people into your life to accomplish more than you ever imagined possible.