Envy Will Make You Miserable

"Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited ..." (1 Corinthians 13:4b HCSB)

Did you ever play "King of the Hill"? You know the game: There's only room for one guy at the top, and when you make it there, you’re the King of the Hill! We’re envious of the person at the top, and, when we finally get there, we like to make others envious of our position!

As adults, we still play that game — we just do it more subtly. "Hey! Look at me! Notice the kind of car I'm driving! Notice my jewelry! My kids are smarter! Notice the color of my credit card!"

But the truth is, envy can make you miserable. Envy is usually an expression of insecurity. When we feel inferior, we get envious.

When I was in the fifth grade, I got a new bicycle for Christmas. It was one of those with big wide handlebars and a banana seat. I thought I was hot. I was so proud of this bicycle until I rode down the street to my friend’s house and discovered that he’d gotten a fancier one. My joy went down the tubes. I was envious when I compared what I had with what he had. 

When I look back now, I realize the real problem was my low self-esteem. When we have low self-esteem, we’ll always feel threatened by people who are more beautiful and better dressed as well as those who have more status, more education, and more charisma — or better bikes!

No one is immune to envy, and you probably know from experience that it can make you miserable. Envy is to your soul what cancer is to your body. It will eat you alive if you don’t watch it.

Envy can cause us to become obsessed with changing our circumstances. We think the answer is more money, so we become consumed with making more money. The problem is that once you get to that level, there's a next level. If you're motivated by envy, you're going to burn out, because there's always a next level.

Because envy is a hidden sin, we tend to think it’s not as bad as overt ones. But envy is destructive!

It devalues others. It destroys relationships. It causes you to miss out on sharing in much joy, such as weddings, births, or promotions. Instead of being envious, God wants us to be happy when he blesses others! When you learn to enjoy others' success, you’ll experience a lot more joy.

Talk About It

  • What joyful experience has God made available to you that you were unable to appreciate because of your envy?
  • What can you thank God for today that you already have?


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Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

This devotional © 2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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