When I am envious, I believe that if my neighbor breaks her leg then I will somehow be able to walk better. If she goes into overdraft at the bank, somehow I will be a bit richer. If she is stricken with cancer, then I will be healthier. It’s the green-eyed monster that makes me relish the thought of the injury of someone else, but, in the end, it’s me who’s destroyed.
David walked into an Israelite stand-off with the Philistines and single-handedly put the fear of the Lord into the enemy by killing the giant, Goliath. He continued to put Philistines to flight, so that the women of the kingdom joined the “David Fan Club” and the theme song was “Saul has killed his thousands, but David has killed his ten thousands,” (I Samuel 18:7).
Saul was not a fan. From the day he heard the theme song, in fact, he determined to kill David. Oh, he would repent of his jealous plot, at times, but the monster never truly left him. On two or three occasions, he actually threw a javelin at David, even as David tried to soothe him with the soft sounds of the harp.
At last Jonathan, Saul’s son, and his father had a dinner-table confrontation. Saul asked about the absence of David that night, and Jonathan began to intervene on David’s behalf, for he had developed a dear friendship with the shepherd-boy-turned-national hero. On this occasion, Saul became so angry at Jonathan’s defense of David, that he threw the javelin at his own son. From this point, Jonathan, knowing there was no hope for reconciliation between his father and his friend, delivered, by secret code, the message to David that he should, indeed, fear the king. Thus, David began a long fugitive run, hiding from the sword of the king.
In the end, Saul gave his life in battle against the Philistine army, and Jonathan lost his life that day, in battle, as well. David, God’s anointed, became the second King of Israel.
Jealousy played a major role in the destruction of many mighty men. Cain was jealous of Abel (Gen.3). Esau was envious of Jacob (Gen.27). Envy consumed the brothers of Joseph (Gen.37) and, at one point, the siblings of Moses (Numbers12). Envy was the catalyst, in fact, that God used to place Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:18).
It’s no wonder that, in Romans 1: 29-32, the sin of envy is strategically placed between the sin of malice and that of murder. When you have malice in your heart, envy follows, and, if nurtured rather than squelched, it can end in injury…even murder.
Envy….It’s a sin that’s very difficult to avoid in any era and among any age group. Teens deal with what psychologists are now calling “facebook envy”. Kids make their lives look picture perfect (Sometimes adults do, too). They crop pictures, touch them up, and exclude the ones they don’t consider flattering. They talk about the cool things they do and not about the Friday nights they only wish they were doing something. Other kids go on facebook and dream of the lives they THINK their friends have. They spend a lot of time envying the pretend lives of other kids. One girl confessed that she went to a party because all of the facebook pictures of the kids who went to this particular party looked like they were having a blast! They were laughing and making silly faces. There were huge group hugs and it just looked so fun…on facebook. But when she got to the party, she found that the fun was all posed. Literally, all that was happening at this party was that a bunch of kids were sitting around making photos of themselves. When the photo was shot, the kids went back to their texting and–regular-not-so-fun–sitting-around. Lots of the pictures were actually “selfies” and there was really nothing at which to laugh…at all.
According to those who study facebook envy, the end result may be a lot of kids who feel very isolated; perhaps as if the whole world is having fun while their own lives are boring and unfulfilling. At this point, envy often takes over and, sometimes, the jealous girl begins to bully those around her in a misguided attempt to empower herself…to place others under her control. She learns to enjoy making others fear her….At least she’s not bored and alone when she has this kind of group control.
Moms, whether or not our children are involved in facebook envy, it will be difficult for them to grow up in our popularity- crazed and materialistic world without experiencing the threat of the green-eyed monster. So, what can we do, as parents, to keep our kids from what is ultimately self-destructive envious behavior?
The best and simplest protection against envy is service. Your children can aspire to be great in the eyes of their peers by bullying or they can aspire to be great in the way that Jesus defines greatness:
“Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant,” (Matthew 20:27).
Those who are busy looking about for needs in the lives of others and filling those needs are far less likely to be consumed with envy. May I suggest that you begin early to teach your children to be servants?
I’m currently posting 100 ideas for children’s service projects on this blog. Each service entry is called “Mama’s K.I.S.S. (Kids in Service Suggestions.) I hope they can be helpful to you as you put this very important envy immunization in your children. One day you’ll be glad you did this.