Andrew Bonar once wrote in his diary:
“This day 20 years ago I preached for the first time as an ordained minister. It is amazing that the Lord has spared me and used me at all. I have no reason to wonder that He used others far more than He does me. Yet envy is my hurt, and today I have been seeking grace to rejoice exceedingly over the usefulness of others, even where it cast me into the shade. Lord, take away this envy from me!”
After reading 1 Samuel 18, I wrote something similar. I wish I could see myself as more like David and less like Saul, but alas I see envy entangling my heart.
John Owen rightly pointed out that “Sin always aims at the utmost: every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin of that kind…” Sin never seems all that terrible when we see it in its first motions, but if given full vent it will aim to destroy us and dethrone God. As such, it is often a wise practice to pull sin out and consider where it aims to take you.
Because God has opened my eyes to envy I thought it’d be wise to look at where it aims to take me. Here are 7 things (from 1 Samuel 18) I’ll sacrifice if I succumb to envy.
1. I’ll sacrifice satisfaction in the work God is doing in my life
Saul couldn’t celebrate his thousands because he was fixated on David’s ten thousands. In the same way if I succumb to envy I’ll lose sight of the good things God is doing in my life.
2. I’ll sacrifice gentleness and replace it with anger
Immediately after hearing the little ditty about David’s success Saul was moved to anger. When I am envious of someone it is unlikely that I’ll have a posture of gentleness towards them. In fact my whole posture towards life will be one consumed with anger.
3. I’ll sacrifice protection from a host of others sins
Once anger filled Saul’s heart the door was open for a host of others sins. I don’t doubt that this “harmful spirit” was a response to his anger. Likewise in the New Testament we see that the love of money (which is like envy) is the root of all kinds of evil. Envy will cause me to do things that I’d never think of doing.
4. I’ll sacrifice joy and relationships and replace it with fear
David was a great asset to Saul. From all appearances he had little thought of being made king. Saul could have gotten great joy and a helpful relationship from this young man. Instead he was consumed with fear. The same will happen with me. Rather than embracing people I’ll fear them and distance myself.
5. I’ll sacrifice joy in God’s good plan
Saul knew better than to overtly kick against God’s plan. But he foolishly thought he could get around God’s favor of David—he’d use his enemies to kill this young man. When I’m envious of someone else I’m telling God that his plan stinks. Rather than enjoying God’s good plan I pout. That’s a terrible exchange.
6. I’ll sacrifice existing relationships
Saul was so consumed with his hatred of David that he ended up losing a son and a daughter in the process (and eventually the whole kingdom). Being so consumed by something—and opening the door to a host of other sins—will take a toll on my relationships. If I succumb to envy I’m sacrificing my family.
7. I’ll ultimately sacrifice even the things that I do have now.
Ultimately, the favor of God left Saul and he lost the kingdom to David. He wasn’t content with God’s gift to him and so God gave it to someone else. If I succumb to envy eventually those things that I so despise now (the blessings I have at present) will be sacrificed.
Everything was taken from Saul and he ended up falling on his own sword (or killed by an Amalekite). That is where envy got him. It aimed to dethrone God in the life of Saul and to ultimately destroy the man.
Lord, I don’t want this foolish envy. Make me happy in you. Make me so happy in you that the joy of others becomes my joy. Cause me to be a man who is so satisfied in you that I give my life to making others happy in you.