Clothing the Church P3: Envy and Identity

CONQUER ENVY WITH IDENTITY

“Envy killed the body of Jesus Christ when He came to this planet the first time, and it’s still killing His body today.” – [Bob Sorge – author of ‘ENVY, the enemy within’]

While conflict works its way into bitterness of heart, envy has its roots there. Envy starts as a wish, and grows into a snare of discontentment. In seeking self-gain, envy bars us from knowing, and growing in love. It bars us from fellowship and bars the church from growing in faith. Envy also tells us we should be something, or we should have something. It robs us of the contentment we have when we know and walk in our identity. Identity – this is our weapon again envy. When we trust in God, and pursue His will for our lives, we have no room for envy because we know we are where He wants us to be, and that we are who He has called us to be.

Some Biblical examples of those who engaged with envy are:

  • Cain, whose envy murdered Abel and returned him a curse.
  • Joseph’s brothers, whose envy sold Joseph into slavery and returned to them a burden of guilt.
  • Saul, whose envy of David lost him his kingdom.
  • Koran, Dathan, Abiram, and On, whose envy caused a rebellion against God, and led to their deaths.
  • The Jews of Acts 13, whose envy of Paul and Barnabas drove them to blaspheme and work against God’s salvation.

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[Proverbs 14:30] says:

“A sound heart is life to the body,
But envy is rottenness to the bones.”

[James 3:14-16] has this to say about envy:

“But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”

The fruits of envy are bitterness, discontentment, confusion and denial of the truth, death of self, and destruction of others. One thing strikes me about those who fell to envy. They all stopped walking in their God-given identity. It was God who gave Cain the ability to farm the land, God who gave Saul his kingdom. God has given each one of us a purpose, and He has made each one of us to be just as we are. Some are kings, some are shepherds, some are introverts, some are extroverts. Yet, there is no discrimination in this because in the end, we will be judged on how much we loved God, and on how we walked in His will.

[2 Corinthians 5:9-10] – “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we all must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Our reward does not come from whether we did something better than another person, it comes when we seek to be well pleasing to God. Our reward is given to us as we walk in the gifts, circumstances and purposes God has given to us. It comes as we worship God with all that He has given to us, and when we give Him thanks for the things in our lives.

Envy cannot exist if we have identity because if we are secure in our God given identity, we will not seek the calling or gifts given to someone else. There is a difference between “desiring greater things” and “envying”. We can desire, ask, admire and be discipled, all while still worshipping God and walking in His calling for our lives. However, we can also fall to envy when we pursue these things with an attitude of seeking self, and destroying others. While the pursuit of God gives us joy, then passion of envy brings trouble.

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Another weapon we have against envy, is humility. Humility builds love, truth and harmony in the body of Christ. Where there is humility, there is contentment, and a turning to Christ.

[Philippians 2:1-4] – “Therefore if there is any consolidation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfil my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Knowing that our identity is found in Christ, allows us to choose humility. When we know we have God’s acceptance, we do not need to look for it in pride. Instead, we can lay ourselves down, and raise others up into His light. Jonathan’s humility, for example, contrasts the envy and pride of His father, King Saul. Jonathan recognises the anointing of God upon David. Instead of giving into envy, he acts in humility. 1 Samuel 20 says that Jonathan ” loved him [David] as he loved his own soul.” In doing this, Jonathan worked with God to build His heavenly kingdom. Envy cannot exist if we have  humility because where envy seeks to exalt self, humility seeks to exalt God and encourage others.

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Let’s keep watch against envy and its false purposes. Let’s pursue our identity in Christ, our contentment in His love, and our joy in encouraging one another. Let’s be who God has called us to be, and do what He has called us to do. Let’s build up the kingdom of God in the unity of His Spirit, and conquer the deceitful enemy of envy. Let’s lay aside our envy, love one another, and turn our focus back to the kingdom of God.

[1 Peter 1:22, 2:1] – “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart… Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babies, desire the pure milk of of the word, that you may grow thereby.” 

 


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