July 22, 2007

A Deadly Sin: Envy

1 Samuel 18:1-9

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30


In spite of everything I know and have learned and even preached, envy is never far away. Oh, I'm smart enough not to be obvious about it. People don't respect someone who is openly envious.

But what makes envy a battle is what lies at its heart: the tendency to compare. And that tendency is always directed toward others who outshine us. They have more money. They live more successfully.

That's what was going on for Saul in our Bible reading for today. Saul was king of Israel. People wrote songs about him, and many were thankful he was king. But then along came David, who did things a little better. Verse 9 gives the picture of envy: "From that time on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David." This "jealous eye" is what causes the bone rot mentioned in our Scripture verse from Proverbs.

When I constantly look at what others are doing and how I measure up, two things happen. First, I won't be at peace because my restless eyes will always find someone who does something better than I can. Second, if my eyes are preoccupied with looking at others, there won't be much opportunity to "look up" to Jesus.

Hebrews 3:1 says, "Fix your thoughts on Jesus." Focusing on Jesus helps me to avoid the sin of envy. It also makes real connecting with Jesus easier.

Lord Jesus, at times my eyes tell me I don't measure up in ways that I would like. Help me to see who I am through your eyes. Help me to strive for your grace and peace. Amen.

About the author — Henry Kranenburg

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