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Envy: The Problem with Green Eyes (Proverbs 14:30)

By Robert J. Phillips
Once there was a monk who lived in a cave in the wilderness. He had a great reputation for holiness. His reputation reached Hell itself, whereupon the devil took three of his key demons with him to tempt the monk out of his sanctity.

When they reached the wilderness, they found the monk sitting at the mouth of the cave with a serene look on his face. The first demon walked up to the monk and planted in his mind the temptation of great power, with visions of kingdoms and their glory. But the face of the monk remained serene. The second demon walked up to the monk and planted in his mind the temptation of great wealth, with visions of silver and gold and all that money can buy. But the face of the monk remained serene. The third demon walked up to the monk and planted in his mind the temptation of sensuous pleasure, with visions of dancing girls. But the face of the monk remained serene.

Annoyed, the devil barked, "Step aside, and I will show you what has never failed." The devil strolled up beside the monk, leaned over and whispered, 'Have you heard the news? Your classmate Makarios has just been named bishop of Alexandria." And the face of the monk scowled.

Numbered among the seven deadly sins is envy. Envy is mentioned several times in the Bible. Every reference is negative. It was out of envy that King Saul turned on David, setting off events that would end in the destruction of Saul's family and civil war in his nation (1 Samuel 18:9). It was out of envy that Jesus was falsely accused by the religious authorities of crimes that sent Him to the cross (Matthew 27:18). The spirit of envy is one of the classic signs of human sinfulness (Romans 1:29). The spirit of envy is numbered among the works of the flesh that turns a person from God (Galatians 5:21).

Part of our problem is that when we envy we are "doin' what comes naturally." Everyone envies someone sometime. We envy those who get the assignment we wanted or the promotion we sought. We envy those whose talents seem better and whose families seem more intact. We envy those whose personalities glisten and whose gifts sparkle when placed next to ours.

The big dance is two weeks away and everyone is wondering whom "he" will ask. He is the combination of scholar and athlete, with the looks of a Greek god and the personality that would swoon anyone's mother. Then the horrible word leaks out. He's going with your frizzy, frumpy roommate. What is worse, he is going with her because she asked him!

Instantly the mind moves into high gear. He accepted because he was stunned by the incredible source of the request, thrown off balance, temporary insanity. As for the roommate, what do you expect of someone like that? She didn't play by the rules. She probably cheats when she runs track, too!

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