“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” - Harold Coffin
“If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang.” - Charley Reese
We live in a highly competitive society which likes to compare everyone and everything against everyone and everything else. As maturity sets in, many understand that worth is not found in the perceptions and opinions of others, but in acceptance by God alone. Unfortunately, for every person who finds completeness in Christ, there are dozens more who squabble about for recognition from everything else. This is abundantly clear in social media, where self-worth is based on the number of “likes” and “comments” a person receives.
In this dangerous environment, it can be very easy for the vice of envy to set in. Envy - “To feel uneasiness, mortification or discontent, at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness enjoyed by another; to repine at another’s prosperity; to fret or grieve one’s self at the real or supposed superiority of another, and to hate him on that account. (Webster's 1828 Dictionary)
As a youth pastor several years back, I was able to witness this phenomenon first hand. Young ladies would discount their worth because they weren’t as pretty as their sister or friend. In like fashion, teenage boys felt useless because they weren't as talented or popular as their classmate or brother. It really was and is a very sad thing to witness. A person basis their entire worth by comparing themselves to someone else. Of course the Bible calls such a practice extremely foolish - “...but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” - 2 Corinthians 10:12b
Our text shows us the catastrophic results of envy. Ten brothers envied their younger sibling, and in the end were filled with murderous rage toward him. Joseph did nothing wrong. He was favored and most loved of his father, but that was not his fault. In his excitement, he shared his dreams with an uninterested audience, but even in this his intentions seem pure. We just don’t get the picture that Joseph was a snooty, stuck-up, in your face kind of guy. Instead we see a humble, honest young man who seemed to love his family dearly.
Joseph’s blessings, favor, and fortune were not received with thanksgiving and appreciation from his brothers. No, instead they hated him. His blessing was their curse, his fortune was their misfortune, and his favor was their rejection. They became so focused on his good they failed to recognize the good in their own lives. Their worth was completely tied up in the value they placed on another person, and they envied him for it. Joseph was a constant reminder to them that their lives were never quite as good as his. Joseph had to be removed if they were ever going to experience good in their own lives.
Don’t allow your identity today to be based on the worth others attribute to you. Don’t base your worth by comparing yourself to others. No, instead find your completeness in Christ. Find your worth in identifying with His worthiness. How? This takes maturity on your part; looking beyond the view of others and being solely concerned with God’s assessment of your life.
Daily Scripture Reading
Genesis 35 - 37
(Follow this Scripture Reading Plan to accompany this devotion and read through your Bible in a year)
“And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be they name; and he called his name Israel.”