In 1 Corinthians 13:4, we are told that love does not envy.
So what is envy anyway? Envy is resenting God’s goodness to others while ignoring God’s goodness to me. It can actually destroy your capacity to enjoy life.
James 3:16 tells us envy is behind most other sins. Envy can lead to adultery, bitterness, complaining, dishonesty, exaggeration, fear, gossip, hypocrisy, insecurity, manipulation, rudeness, sarcasm and the list could go on and on.
Proverbs 14 says envy is like bone cancer in that it can “rot the bones.” Envy will make a person miserable. Envy is an incredibly destructive force.
We can learn how to deal with envy from the parable of the vineyard workers, taught by Jesus, in Matthew 20.
A farmer set out to hire day workers to come to work in his vineyard. He went down to the local staffing agency early one morning to find some help. He hired some people to begin work the first thing that day.
It was about 6 a.m. He agreed to pay the workers a denarius, which would have been the average wage someone would expect for a full day’s work.
The farmer went back to the labor pool and did the same thing around 9 a.m. The thing that was different this time was that he told them, “I will pay you whatever is right,” rather than making a specific offer.
He did the same thing at noon, again at 3 p.m. and one last time at 5 p.m. To all of the other workers, with the exception of the first group, he basically says, “I’ll pay you what’s fair,” and they don’t even discuss or agree upon a specific wage. They are trusting that he will be fair.
When quitting time comes, around 6 p.m., the landowner paid everyone in reverse. The guys who were hired last got paid first. He gave them all a denarius for one hour of work.
The guys who started out at 6 a.m. are thinking they will surely get more since they worked longer, they worked through the heat of the day and they undoubtedly did the most work.
But the landowner ends up paying everyone the same amount, which upset the early hires. They felt they deserved more, but they got what they were promised. The early workers were extremely envious of those who were hired after them.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll see what we can learn from this story about how to deal with envy.
You may read Steve Greene’s blog at pastorgreene.wordpress.com or you can email him at [email protected].