HOW TO STOP LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER ONE
I CORINTHIANS 13:4
It never ceases to amaze me the popularity of tabloid magazines, talk
shows, gossip columnists and celebrity magazines. It seems to me that our
society is obsessed with needing to know dirt on people who are famous.
Time after time, our public flocks to book stores to buy the latest "tell
all" book. Why do we do that? Why do we enjoy reading that kind of stuff?
What is it in human nature that makes us feel better when we can bring
other people down with a bit of gossip? The answer is obvious. The answer
is the word "envy." I guarantee you, if you make your mark in the world,
there will be someone who will be trying to erase that mark with a scandal.
We began a series three weeks ago on Chapter 13 of I Corinthians. This
chapter is chocked full of advice on how to build strong relationships. So
far, we have preached on Following the Way of Love, How to Develop
Patience, and Looking for the Bxest in Others. As we once again look at
verse four, we find it defining what love is. It says, "Love does not envy
. . . "
What is envy? Envy is different from jealousy. Jealousy says, "I want what
you have." Envy says, "I not only want what you have, but I also want you
to lose it." Envy can show up in any kind of relationship. Can envy show up
in a family? Sure it can. The Bible is full of sibling rivalries: Cain and
Abel, Esau and Jacob, Joseph and his brothers. There were at least two sets
of brothers in the disciple band. They argued over who would be number one.
Can envy show up on the job? Absolutely. Salesmen can envy other salesmen.
Doctors can envy other doctors. Preachers can envy the pastor down the
Can there be envy at school? Of course. This past year, students spent a
lot of their energy comparing clothes, cars, boy friends, grades, athletic
Can you have envy among friends? Sure you can. You may envy the fact that
they have a nice house or car. You may envy the fact that it seems they do
not have problems with their kids. You may envy the ease with which they
succeed. It can happen.
We are all touched by envy. The whole advertising industry is based on
creating envy among friends. We will hock our future to keep up with the
Joneses. It can get to be a vicious cycle.
I want us to look first at how envy messes up our lives.
I. HOW DOES ENVY MESS UP MY LIFE?
1. It starts fights and quarrels
Read with me James 4:1, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t
they come from our desires that battle within you?" James tells us that
conflict comes from our inner desires. Do you remember playing King of the
Hill? There was only room for one man at the top. Adults still play that
game. We are more subtle about it; but, we also do it more lethally. We
claim to be King of the Hill by the things we buy, the clothes we wear and
the neighborhood we live in, even by the color of our credit card.
Envy is one of the major conflicts of marriage. "You pay more attention to
your job than you do to me." "You make more money than I do." "You get to