Se7en: Envy (and gluttony)

Not long ago Verizon named one of its cell phones the enV. It has all the high multimedia features such as video, camera, and of course the QWERTY keyboard for texting. The phone is typical though the name is intriguing. The “enV”. Its name is meant to create the desire for all to have. We are all supposed to be envious of those who own this phone and go out to purchase our very own. (Although it’s not as cool as this one)

This message is a continuation in our series of the Se7en Deadly Sins. You might of guessed which sin. Envy forms out of the desire for more… and more… and more. Envy is an externally less dirty appearance of lust. The person battling with this sin is never satisfied. They are always searching, craving, yearning for the next big thrill or fix. It may be as simple as cookies from the counter or somebody’s possessions we want to pocket. Envy goes beyond the problem of wrong desires to resentment of others who enjoy certain benefits or pleasures. It asks, “Why does that person have and enjoy _____ and not me?” Ultimately, this sin points to sinful pride believing that our wants and desires should be fulfilled because we demand them to be so. It places ourselves in the role of God; something we are unable to fulfill.

In Proverbs 23:1-5, we see the author warning against envy. Things you see in or with others may appear as “delicacies” but in reality it is “deceptive”. Those things will fade away, or “sprout wings and fly away”. The author’s advice is summed up in verse 4, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” The point is to not seek fulfillment in others but show self-control and patience in what God provides. In a word, contentment is the answer.

What are some common areas of envy, lacking contentment for teens? See if you find yourself in any of these possible scenarios.

– Envy in position & prominence (Mark 10:35-44).
Are you in a place where you are playing second string on some kind of team or organization? Are you jealous of those who are above you? Do you selfishly desire to unseat those in front of you? Are you seeking your name to be the highlight of every achievement?

Jesus reverses the world’s standard for position and prominence. He says, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for man” (Mark 10:45).

– Envy of persons (John 21:20-22).
Do you see someone else and want them or what they have? Are you overly competitive in nature? Do you often compare yourself and struggle with measuring up to others?

Jesus reverses the world’s standard for comparison to others. Our focus should be on our own character and calling before God. When we shift this to others we become filled with pride and envy.

– Envy of possessions (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11).
Our country is very materialistic, even in a time of economic depression. Loads of debt overwhelm many families and young people all for the sake of filling our desires to make us happy. This is envy at its finest. We need to discern the difference in every purchase between needs and wants. We also must consider how our possessions can be used for God’s glory rather than our own amassing of objects that rust, fade, wear and collect dust.

Contentment eliminates envy.
In all, the root of envy is finding satisfaction in god-substitutes. The answer is understanding that there is a greater treasure of infinite value – it is knowing and loving Jesus Christ. Therefore, the call for believers is to find their contentment in Christ.

The Christian is to find their greatest joy in Christ. Contentment is a choice to embrace Jesus as the all-sufficient source of joy and provision. It is being able to say, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of contentment – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). For “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). It is realizing you can be “satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

When a person can embrace these truths they can eliminate envy. They will not look to position, prominence, people or possessions for fulfillment. They will already have it in the presence of God.

– Why do people get envious?
– Where do you see envy in society?
– What do you most commonly envy?
– What does the Bible have to say about envy/jealousy (do a search)?
– How does contentment eliminate envy?
– Read Philippians 4:11-13 & Hebrews 13:5. How do they relate to each other?
– What does it mean to be content but not complacent with Jesus?

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