Se7en Deadly Sins: Envy & Greed (Proverbs 24)

MOTIVATE

–        Picture the rooms of your house, which is likely the dirtiest? Many would confess it’s the bathroom. So, imagine your bathroom and then the toilet. Imagine looking on the floor around the back portions of porcelain. It’s likely dusty, dirty, and perhaps a little mildewed. This is the place where if you drop your toothbrush then there’s no washing it off; it’s getting a new one.

o   Some of your first actions when you get home will be to clean.

o   My point in this picture is that the place seldom anyone looks is the place that is often the most unclean. Likewise, there are places in our life and heart where we clean on the surface but deeper places we seldom scan or study to scrub and wash away the filth.

o   So far in SE7EN DEADLY SINS we have looked at lust and anger. Today we look at envy & greed – 2 sins that are easier to conceal but just as critical.Se7en Deadly Sins logo

 

–        My Envy/Greed

o   Spoiled as first grandkid of family, so wasn’t terribly envious but greedy and not always grateful was a repeated childhood lesson.

o   As teen wanting Bugle Boy Jeans… finally got one and the fad died.

o   Friends went to college but I went to work… was great until I wanted to go to college and had to go to community college first, not away to a large & major university.

o   Pastors constant comparison of numbers, spiritual gift envy, geography envy, demographic envy, membership envy… (can there be free agent or trades?).

  • Envy is the enemy of unity. Let’s remember we’re building God’s kingdom not mini-forts.

o   Current house hunting… envy/greed is common but goes beyond my budget.

o   As a pastor, at times I envy friendships that are sometimes awkward for me to fully have as my friendships are somewhat impact my livelihood.

 

–        Envy circumstances: The envy list is endless.

o   Coworker gets a promotion and not you

o   Sibling gets favor or material blessings from parent and not you

o   Friend gets to start on sports team or first chair in band or play, while you warm the bench or are subjected to stage crew (no offense to those who enjoy stage crew!)

o   Friend gets into desired and admired college but you have to start at community college

o   Person is thin and shaped in all the right places while you struggle with body image and/or imperfections

o   Single persons are always a bridesmaid but not a bride; a groomsmen but not a groom.

o   Married friends announce pregnancy but your marriage struggles with infertility.

o   Parents have normal children while your child has a disability or mental illness while

o   Other married friends have positive relationship with inlaws while your inlaws are insane 😉

o   Other people are retiring with ample 401k but you need to work another 10-15 years bc you didn’t work in the right industry.

 

–        Envy/Greed in the Bible

o   Adam & Eve (Gen 3)… in Eden (paradise) with God but still wanted more.

o   Cain & Abel (Gen 4)

o   Tower of Babel (Gen 11)

o   Lot’s greedy choice of land (Gen 13:10-13)

o   Abraham with Sarai vs Hagar (Gen 16)

o   Esau vs Jacob (Gen 27, ff.)

o   Joseph vs Brothers (Gen 37, ff.)

o   Israel wandering envy/greed of other nations (Exodus, all OT)

o   Achan’s greed at Ai (Joshua 7)

o   Elkanah with Hannah’s envy vs Peninah (1Samuel 1)

o   Israel’s envious wanting a king like other nations (1Samuel 8:4)

o   Saul’s envious over David’s attention (1Samuel 19, ff.)

o   Pharisees greed (Mat 23:25) and envy (Mark 15:10)

o   Judas’ greed for silver rather than the Savior (Mat 26:14; John 12:4-5)

o   Peter envious over John (John 21:18)

o   1Corinthians 5:11; 6:10 “Do not associate with the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy… the greedy …. will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

o   1Corinthians 13:4-6 “love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth”

o   Galatians 5:20 “Now the works of the flesh are evident:… jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy… those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

o   James 3:16 “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

o   1Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:7 Deacons & Overseers are not to be greedy

 

–        Righteous Jealousy (not envy) Joe Rigney says, “We often lump envy and jealousy together, but there is an important distinction. Jealousy is oriented toward what we possess; envy is oriented toward the possessions of others. We are jealous for what we do not have (which is why jealousy is not always a sin); we are envious of what others have.”[1]

o   A husband for wife (Song of Solomon 8:6)

o   Ministry zeal for the good of others (Rom 11:14; 2Cor 11:2)

 

–        God is jealous; it’s His name (Ex 34:14)

o   Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9; 6:15; 29:20; 32:16, 32:21; Josh 24:19;

o   Many prophets: ex. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Nahum 1:2; Zephaniah 1:18; 3:8; Zech 1:14; 8:2

 

In examining these Se7en Deadly Sins we see profound and powerful emotions: lust, anger/wrath/hate, and now envy and greed. Again, if we’re being honest we all have experienced envy and greed. Let’s not kid ourselves, these are emotions – and sins – that we deal with almost daily.

 

EXAMINE       Se7en Deadly Sins: Envy & Greed (will use interchangeably)

Envy is an awareness of an advantage had by someone else that is desired and resented for your not having.

–        “Envy is the art of counting your neighbors blessings instead of your own.” (Harold Coffin)

Greed is similar to envy – and lust – with a consuming and uncontrollable desire for more of something.

There are numerous proverbs on the topics of envy and greed. Today we’ll overview many of them as well as focus on a specific passage of Proverbs 24.

 

Envy & Greed promise to please but fail to fulfill (Prov 24:1-9, 13-14)
The author of Proverbs roots sin, like every sin, in the heart (24:2; 4:23). Envy & Greed are desires, which if unchecked, can turn into demands. So, know that everyone is capable of envy.

More, Proverbs commands not to be envious of evil men (24:1). That may seem odd at first, but the reasoning is based on the temporary nature of this world. The command is repeated in other Proverbs (Prov 3:31; 24:19-20) and even Psalms (Ps 37:1, ff.; 73:3, ff.).

Ps 73:3-5 “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs of death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.”

If one only looks at the present moment it may seem like that doing wrong is rewarding, evil is enjoyable. Yet, those who believe in God and eternity must remember the timeline of reward and reckoning is not ours to administrate. God’s judgment will be firm and forthcoming.

Ps 37:1-3, 9 “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good… For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.”

◊      Envy & Greed stem from an over-idealized view of others. Numerous other people’s lives look appealing and attractive from the outside, but all that glitters isn’t gold. But envy and greed are a trick and trap (“like kudzu of the heart” – Ed Litton) of the enemy. Envy & Greed seek to steal your heart away from the Lord. Simply put, the comparison trap is a game with no winners.

Proverbs 24:3-9 is the invitation to wisdom and God’s ways. Envy & greed distract your heart from life’s greatest reward. 

Proverbs 19:2 “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.”

Proverbs 23:17 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.

 

◊      Envy & Greed seek to steal not only your holiness but your happiness. When you compare and desire more you are left feeling empty, regardless of how much you are able to obtain. Even if you receive the object of envy/greed there is still the feeling of discontent and dissatisfaction; a trail of grief and misery follow envy. Envy & Greed promise to please but fail to fulfill. 

Proverbs 14:30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” In other words, there is heartache and hurt from deep within when one is envious/greedy.

Proverbs 1:19 “Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.”

Proverbs 15:27 “Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household,

 

Envy & Greed satisfy self at the expense of others (Prov 24:11-12; 15-22)
The author of Proverbs realizes that envy & greed not only haunt the individual but seeks to hurt others.

Proverbs 24:15-18 “Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home… Do not rejoice when your enemy falls and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased”

◊      Envy & Greed is not just wanting what someone has but wanting someone else to lose what they have. It is famously illustrated with the crab mentality: like crabs in a pot who could easily escape but any attempt is stopped by other crabs clawing to bring it back inside the pot; a top is unnecessary for the pot since the crabs do all the work of holding each other inside.[2]

Proverbs 6:34 For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.”

Proverbs 28:25 “A greedy man stirs up strife,

  • It’s like the wife who starts exercising and dieting. After a while she starts losing weight and receiving compliments from other men. The husband, instead of encouraging his wife is jealous over the attention she receives and so he starts bringing home sugar snacks & desserts to tempt his wife to cheat on the diet and creates alternate plans for them to participate in instead of his wife going to exercise.
  • It’s like the greediness of a man who received $100K when his grandmother passed away. So that year he indulges in all sorts of immorality and vice pleasure. The next year his aunt dies and wills him another $200K, and the year looks the same with fast cars, fast women, and indulgent living. The following year he is extremely depressed. His friends notice the man’s smile and satisfaction are gone and ask what was the problem. The man responded simply, “No one died this year.”
  • Tabloid magazines are popular because of envy & greed. But people read them not just to have an envious/greedy gaze of the rich and famous, but because inside is the gossip of how disastrous and messed up the lives of celebs – divorced, depression, addiction, murder…etc. Somehow their downfall gives us delight.

APPLY/THINK

The remedy for envy and being greedy is two-fold.

1)    Fear God. Envy forgets eternity. Greed ignores this world will end. Envy & Greed live for the world’s applause rather than God’s cause; only to miss out on all of God’s blessings. Several Proverbs remind us that the fear of the Lord is the eliminator of envy and means to purge greed.

Proverbs 15:16-17 “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.  

Proverbs 23:17-18 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” 

Proverb 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.”

Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

Proverbs 23:4-5 “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.”

Proverbs 28:22 “A stingy man [literally: ‘a man whose eye is evil’] hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him.”

v  Only Christ will satisfy. God Himself has no need for greed or reason for envy. He is and has all things. We were made to find fulfillment and joy in God, not in the substitutes of creation. So, our contentment can only come through knowing Christ. Psalm 16:4 “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply” Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Philippians 4:11-13 the secret of contentment is seeing Christ as your source & strength

 

2)    Enjoy Grace. Humble contentment conquers envy and greed. Rather than seeking more a boundary is drawn to be grateful for God’s provisions.

Proverbs 21:17, 20 “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich… Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” 

Proverbs 21:26 “All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back.”

Proverbs 27:7 “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.  

Proverbs 28:22 “A stingy man [literally: ‘a man whose eye is evil’] hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him.”

*See John 3:25-30 “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven… Therefore, this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

è Is Christ enough?

è Gratefulness over Greediness by repeating Lord’s prayer: “daily bread” “Thy kingdom come”

[1] Joe Rigney, “Envy” chapter 3 in Killjoys: The Seven Deadly Sins, Desiring God 2015.

[2] Crab mentality: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crab_mentality

 

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