Here is a Sunday school lesson or Bible study focused on what the Bible says about envy.
Envy is such a human emotion and I think all of us are affected by it but envy occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession that someone else has that they wish they had. It could be a position, a job, a home, a spouse, their money or any other number of things. Our hearts are naturally covetous and it is so easy for us to covet what others have, which is nearly the same thing as envy. When we envy what others have, we’re telling God that we’re not satisfied with what we have and God will not bless someone with such an attitude.
Why is it so easy for us to envy others?
What do you envy in others or what others have?
How can we prevent ourselves from being envious?
Envy led to the Cross
Matthew 27:18 “For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.”
When Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate, “he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up” (Mark 15:10) and he was exactly right. Earlier, “the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him” (John 12:29) and “The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign” (John 12:28) The “sign” was Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead and their hatred and envy of Jesus was so bad that “the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him” (John12:10-11), even though it was not Lazarus’ fault. How far envy can carry a human being into depravity cannot even be measured.
How far did the chief priests and Pharisees envy take them?
Does it seem extreme that they wanted to kill Lazarus too?
How did Pilate know that they had delivered Jesus’ to him because of their envy?
Envy; a Fruit of the Flesh
First Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.”
When the Apostle Paul lists some of the works of the flesh, he included envy or boasting so someone who has the love of God in them should never envy others because God sends the rain on the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45) and blesses whom He chooses to bless. We cannot envy those who have much because if they’re not saved, their money will be worthless on the Day of Judgment (Rev 20:12-15).
Why is it wrong for a Christian to envy others?
Why would we want to envy someone who has much but who is not saved?
Why is it unloving to be envious?
Envy and Acknowledging God
Romans 1:28-30 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents.”
When someone refuses to acknowledge God, God gives them up to their own lusts of the flesh and these wicked fruits of the flesh are murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, slander, gossip, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventing new ways to sin, not honoring parents but also being “full of envy.” We expect this out of the unsaved but not from the children of God. There is no room for envy in the saints.
Why is envy so evil?
What does envy tell God?
What does Paul mean by “God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done?”
Don’t Envy the Wicked
Proverbs 3:31-32 “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in his confidence.”
Why we envy is easy to understand because our hearts are wicked and deceitful (Jer 17:9) so we can easily deceive ourselves into thinking, we don’t have as much as our neighbor has but if your neighbor doesn’t have Christ, they have nothing. We shouldn’t envy those who do violence, whether it’s in a physical or a financial form of violence by scamming others out of their money. The upright have confidence on the day of their death where judgment follows (Heb 9:27) but the wicked have none just as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:4 “Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”
Why do the “upright” have confidence?
Why shouldn’t we envy a man or woman of violence?
How does our heart deceive us?
Our Wicked, Envious Heart
Mark 7:20-23 “And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Sadly, envy is a waste of time and energy because it does nothing to change the situation and in fact, “Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun” (Eccles 9:6). Their envy will perish with them, along with all of their possessions, at the time of Christ’s appearance or after death and they will have no share in the kingdom of God, so why envy others who have much but in reality, have little without Christ?
Have you ever envied someone or something that someone has?
Why is envy a complete waste of time and energy?
What does Solomon mean that “forever they have no more share?”
I urge you in your study to look at all of the Bible verses and read them aloud in the class so that you can get the most out of these lessons so that we can avoid the “green-eyed monster” of envy. Envy is like a disease; if it’s not treated, it will only grow worse and worse before it leads to God finally giving them up to a reprobate mind and that’s no place for a Christian to be headed. We ought to be thankful to God for what we do have because most of us have more than the majority of earth’s inhabitants have. Besides, why envy someone who’s not saved? Just think of their eternity (Rev 2:18). Who would envy their fate at that time?
Why is envy so bad in God’s eyes?
Have others ever envied you?
Why would we envy the wealthy knowing their final destination?
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.