Remember the story of Cain and Abel?
That’s a story of envy. And it’s the story of the entire human race. It’s a story that is replayed over and over again in families, in organizations, in churches, in offices, in schools…
Cain and Abel were brothers. Cain and Abel offered a sacrifice to God and Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and Cain’s was not. Result? Cain envied Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:6-8)
The spirit of Cain is the spirit of envy—and it continues today.
Today, we want to cast out the spirit of Cain from our lives.
Problem: We Don’t Know We’re Envious
Many envious people don’t know they’re envious.
In fact, right now, you might be tempted not to read, saying, “Nah, not my issue.”
Actually, envy is as common as the common cold. But it’s as deadly as cancer. It’s like a mental cancer that destroys your life, your relationships, and your happiness.
I repeat. Often, we don’t know we’re envious.
Let me give you two examples.
I know of a young woman who fights with her sister all the time. She doesn’t know it, but everyone around her knows she’s envious.
I know of a prayer group leader who is always talking about the mistakes of another prayer group leader. He’s not aware of his envy. But all his friends know. He actually envies this other leader because his prayer group is much larger than his.
Oh yes, envy is alive and well in Church.
In fact, I’ve seen religious groups split and fight each other simply because one leader was envious of another leader.
But here’s the thing: the leader doesn’t think he’s envious. He thinks he’s correcting the other leader’s pride. He thinks he’s mandated by God Himself to correct this other leader and save the group from total destruction.
But ironically, the very thing that will destroy his group is his own envy. An envy he doesn’t know he has.
Envy is one of the most destructive things on planet earth.
Let me say it again. Envy kills.
The Two Phases Of Envy
Envy is a green monster that doesn’t begin monstrous.
This monster begins tiny.
I believe there are two phases in the growth of Envy.
Meron Ka, Bakit Wala Ako?
(Why don’t I have what you have?)
When I was in Grade School, I remember one of my classmates. His name was Ariel.
I remember him so well because he had everything I didn’t have.
For example, his grades were always excellent.
One day, our teacher distributed our report cards in class. When she gave Ariel’s report card to him, she announced, “All of Ariel’s grades are above 90.”
When she gave my report card to me, one my classmates shouted, “All of Bo’s grades are below 75.” (Actually, that was a lie. All my grades were below 78. Hmph!)
Ariel was also an incredible athlete. You name it—basketball, baseball, football, running—he was the star player.
One day, Ariel saw us playing marbles. He joined the game and beat all of us, bringing home all our marbles.
The next day, he saw a bunch of girls seated playing jackstone. Ariel joined them and beat all of them as well. (He made exhibition tricks with the jackstone that will astound Houdini.)
To top it all, he was also handsome. He had a fans club of girls following him. At that time, I didn’t know how that felt. (Now I know. J)
As a kid, I asked God many times, “Lord, why did you make Ariel so gifted? And why did you make me so ungifted?”
It was a question I asked for a long time.
It wasn’t like I had zero gifts. I knew I had at least one gift: I knew how to draw well.
One day, our homeroom teacher raffled off our names in class. We picked one classmate and made him a greeting card on the spot.
I smiled. I knew I was a pretty good illustrator. So making a greeting card was a cinch.
I remember drawing Superman in my greeting card.
Finally, when our teacher told us to give our cards to each other, guess who came to me? Ariel. He picked my name. And he handed me his greeting card. When I saw it, my jaw dropped.
His card was so beautiful, you’d think Hallmark did it. Ariel was ten times better than me in drawing.
To this day, I still remember his card. It had a professionally drawn luxury ship. It said, “I like blue ships, I like red ships, but most of all, I like friendship. Ariel.”
Before that day, I wondered if I was the most ungifted person in the entire world. That day, I stopped wondering. I knew without a shadow of a doubt.
I was it.
I remember asking God, “Lord, why do you love Ariel so much? Why don’t you love me?”
That’s what Envy is.
It makes you focus on the blessings of the other person.
In Phase 1 of Envy, we ask, Meron ka, bakit wala ako? (Why don’t I have what you have?)
In Phase 1 of Envy, we don’t want to kill anyone. I didn’t want to harm Ariel.
But Phase 1 Envy ends up killing the envier himself.
Envy “Kills” The Envier
I repeat. Envy is mental cancer.
It’s like a tumor that keeps growing until it kills you.
Another analogy: Envy is a lethal, slow-acting poison.
It doesn’t kill you right away. But over time, it kills.
The Bible is so graphic when it describes what envy does to you. It says, envy rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30).
Many psychotherapists say that almost all mental diseases will have envy in its core.
Why does envy kill the envier?
Because envy, once nurtured, always comes with shame.
And shame always kills the spirit.
I should know. I was filled with the spirit of shame for decades. Even to this day, though I’m already free, I still feel the scars left by shame in my heart.
You feel ashamed of yourself because you don’t have what others have. Shame shouts in your ear, “There’s something wrong with you!”
Shame will make you do crazy things, just to get accepted.
Let me tell you about Carla.
Carla was a manager in a bank. And she became friends with some of her rich clients, all successful businesswomen.
Everytime they met, she’d see her friends carry Prada andLouis Vuiton bags.
But all of these were beyond her small paycheck. She felt envious. To keep up with her friends’ lifestyle, she used her 3 credit cards. Before she knew it, she was buried in a huge mountain of debts.
But if we keep on nurturing Envy, it graduates to Phase 2.
And Phase 2 Envy is even more dangerous.
Wala Ako, Dapat Wala Ka Rin!
(If I don’t have any, you shouldn’t have any too)
This is when envy becomes cruel and destructive not only to yourself, but to others. Envy will now kill two people—the envier and the one being envied.
My analogy: Envy is like a cannibal. But an insane cannibal. He eats others and eats parts of himself as well.
Emily and Pam were both sales agents. But after two years, Pam got promoted as sales manager. Emily was happy for her best friend. Or at least, she pretended to be happy. They even had a little party together to celebrate Pam’s promotion.
But as the weeks went by, problems came up. Pam couldn’t believe Emily’s transformation. From being her best friend, Emily became her worst enemy. Emily would criticize Pam in front of others. Emily would gossip about her and tell all kinds of lies about her.
What was Emily’s problem? Phase 2 Envy.
Phase 2 Envy is Cain’s Envy. (Genesis 3:2-8)
Cain used a rock and bashed it on his brother’s head.
We don’t use physical rocks but we use something as deadly—the rocks of our words.
We may not desire his physical death. But we conspire for some kind of death. What kind? Social death. We want the person we envy to be humiliated. To lose face.
How Do You Know If You Have Envy?
You won’t know if you have envy by asking, “Am I envious?” Because we’re usually blind to our own envy.
Here are three questions to ask to know if you have Phase 2 Envy.
Is There Anyone I Don’t Like?
Sometimes, we don’t like someone because he offended us or hurt us.
But sometimes, we don’t know why we don’t like someone. We can’t explain it.
This doesn’t automatically mean you have envy. But it means you’ve got to ask the second question.
What Does He Have That I Don’t Have—
But Want To Have?
If the other person has something you don’t have but you want to have, then it’s probably envy.
When a woman envies another woman because she’s sexier, thinner, and more beautiful, she’ll start poking holes on her life or his character.
“Yes, she’s sexy, but she’s unhappy with her marriage.” Or, “Yes, she’s physically beautiful, but I think she’s very self-centered.”
When it gives you pleasure to criticize the other person, then you can almost be sure you’ve got Phase 2 Envy.
Will I Be Secretly Delighted If He Falls?
You know you’ve got Phase 2 Envy if you secretly delight to hear the falls, faults, fumbles, and failures of the other person. We find delicious satisfaction in knowing he’s getting his just rewards for being “too proud”.
We even spread the “sad” news around. If we’re religious, we justify spreading it around by first saying, “Let’s pray for Sue. The one you see driving a brand new Mercedes? Yes, that’s her. I heard that her marriage is falling apart…”
Going To The Root Of All Envy
Envy is only a symptom.
The root of all Envy is Emptiness.
Envy isn’t about the other person. Envy is always about a deep dissatisfaction with yourself.
Here’s the point: A person who is happy with himself—and profoundly satisfied with himself—cannot envy others. It’s impossible.
Where does the feeling of emptiness and insecurity come from? It comes from fear. Specifically, the fear of worthlessness.
And friend, there is only one thing that can fill your emptiness and heal your fear of worthlessness: God’s Love.
Two Powerful Steps To Get Rid Of Envy
Last week, I said that the antidote to impatience is trust in God’s Love.
Today, I’d like to announce to you that the antidote to envy isgratitude for God’s Love.
You show gratitude in two ways. And I believe these are the only two ways to get rid of Envy.
Celebrate Your Abundance
Many years ago, Dad gave me his second hand car.
It was a wonderful car. It was a 12-year old Mitsubishi Galant,but even if it was old, I still loved it.
I loved the smooth ride. I loved the cool aircon. I loved the cassette player. (This was really a long time ago.) I loved its powerful engine.
Even if it was ancient, it never gave me any problems on the road.
I remember sitting on the driver’s seat, patting it on the dashboard, and uttering, “Thank you Lord for my wonderful car.”
I was so grateful to God.
But one morning, my friend came to the house with his a brand new Nissan. He was a salesman and his company gave him the car. He said, “Bo, I’d like you to be the first person to ride my car.”
We took it for a spin.
Man, the ride was fantastic. You’d think there were no bumps on the road. And I almost froze inside—the aircon was really strong. And the stereo sounds were superb, it was like Gary V was in the car with us, singing his songs live.
And most importantly, it had that new car smell.
That day, when I went back to my old car, I had a problem.
All of a sudden, it wasn’t so wonderful anymore.
I could feel the bumps on the road that I didn’t feel before. I now could hear squeaking sounds that I didn’t hear before.
And the smell—it had that old car smell! (I could smellTinapa!)
Instantly, my gratitude was gone.
But when I noticed the lack of gratitude within me, I stopped the car, closed my eyes, placed my hand on my dashboard, and started thanking God for what I had.
I began to recount the blessings of having a car.
Slowly, feelings of gratitude returned.
From my experience, when you’re grateful, you’re satisfied with what you have. And when you’re satisfied with what you have, envy will have a hard time finding a foothold in your heart.
When you’re grateful for God’s blessings in your life, slowly, you’ll be grateful for God’s blessings in the lives of others too.
I also did something else: I started thanking God for my friend’s brand new car. I prayed that his job be blessed even more.
And that brings us to Step Two.
Celebrate Their Abundance
Be genuinely happy for other people’s successes.
Share in their joy. Share in their victory.
In fact, I don’t want you just to be happy when it happens.
I encourage you to pray that it happens.
Pray that your officemates get the promotion, your single friends get married, your siblings get good breaks.
When you do this, something magical will happen to your life. Because there’s a Law in the universe that states that what you give, you’ll receive in abundance. (Luke 6:38)
Here’s what I believe: If you envy the blessings that other people receive, you’re driving away those blessings from your life. But if you’re genuinely grateful for the blessings other people receive, you’ll attract those exact same blessings into your life more easily.
Once you experience this genuine happiness for others, that’s the day you know that you’re free from envy.
And this is where other people’s success becomes a real inspiration. “If he can do it, I can do it too.”
Is There Such A Thing As Positive Envy?
Someone asked me, “Bo, isn’t there some type of positive envy? For example, when you see your friend’s business booming, you work hard so that your business will boom too?”
Perhaps it’s not envy but encouragement.
It’s easy to know if it’s envy or encouragement.
Do you wish him ill? Or do you wish him well?
If you wish him ill, then it’s envy. But if you wish him well (that he prospers more in his life so you’ll even be more inspired), then it’s encouragement.
Encouragement says, “If he can do it, I can do it too.”
Envy says, “Who does he think he is?”
Envy comes with anger. Encouragement comes with an abundance mindset—that there’s more than enough for everyone.
You Need To Believe In Abundance
I got this analogy from Brian Kim’s blog.
Imagine watching a movie with a very large bucket of popcorn. The bucket is so large, it’s as big as a bathtub. (Okay, slightly smaller, or you won’t fit on your seat.)
When you pick up the first kernel, it slips through your fingers and falls on the dirty floor of the movie house.
Question: Will you pick it up and eat it? I doubt it. Because there’s still a gigantic bucket of popcorn in front of you.
This is what I mean by having an abundance mindset.
When your friends get blessed, it doesn’t lessen your chance of being blessed. Because you don’t live in a limited universe. In God’s Kingdom, there is no scarcity of blessings. There is only abundance. The universe is a giant bucket of blessings that will never run out.
Envy lives in a universe of scarcity.
Love lives in a universe of abundance.
In fact, I’m praying that all of you become wealthy in every area of your life!
Be free from envy.
And truly love.
May your dreams come true,