Envy rots the hear. There’s no easy way to put it. When we have envy, little by little it destroys us and our relationships.
Dwight L. Moody once told the fable of an eagle who was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a sportsman with a bow and arrow and said to him, “I wish you would bring down that eagle up there.” The man said he would if he had some feathers for his arrow. So the jealous eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival bird because he was flying too high. The first eagle pulled out another feather, then another–until he had lost so many that he himself couldn’t fly. The archer took advantage of the situation, turned around, and killed the helpless bird. Moody made this application: if you are envious of others, the one you will hurt the most by your actions will be yourself.
During the history of the Kingdom of Israel, it came to a crossroads. God wanted the people to see Him as their king. The governance of the era of the book of Judges had a three prong system of oversight for the nation. The Judges were primarily military leaders. The priests we responsible for religious law. And God was meant to be the third prong – their king. But over and over again the people rejected God as their king, and began to slowly erode their morals and culture. By the end of the book of Judges, we see Israel compared with Sodom and Gommorrah, and a civil war break out. They hit rock bottom.
And at this point, they have a choice: Finally embrace God as their king and steer back to the right path, or continue to seek hope and faith in earthly things. 1 Samuel chapter 8 shows us the will of the people.
“We want a king over us [a human king]. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
This decision would lead to the downfall of Israel as a nation. In the end their human kings would lead them astray, and bring them into exile under Assyrian and Babylonian rule.
But in that verse above there is a real insight we must take note of. Why did they want a king? To be like the other nations. They suffered greatly from envy, and that envy rotted the nation.
This story from the Old Testament shows on a national scale what happens to us on an individual scale all the time. We see what others have and our desire for it negatively affects what we already have, or what God wants us to have instead.
Why can’t this town be more like that other town? Why can’t my spouse be more like that person’s spouse? Why aren’t my kids more like that person’s kids? Why don’t I have a job like that person’s job? How can these thoughts affect us in any way other than by deeply wounding our appreciation and love for what we already have in our lives!?
Envy is so good at sneaking up on us. It guises itself as, “good intentions,” or, “ambition,” but in reality, its just trying to create a deep and destructive jealousy within us. Why doesn’t my church have this ministry that I believe is really important? Sounds like a good question – and very often it is! But sometimes, its not a question we ask in sincerity, but in bitterness. Bitterness is where we can begin to identify envy for what it is.
Do our desires and longings for us and those around us make us bitter? Or do they call us to be better?
Don’t allow envy to rot you, wound you, and take you down a dark path. Spend some time in reflection and look at the desires of your heart and what they are doing to the rest of you both spiritually, mentally, and physically. How are they affecting your relationships? How are they affecting your appreciating for the blessings you already have? Answer these questions, and uproot the bitterness when you see it.