“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good….Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:1-3, 11; emphasis mine).
Yesterday, Nicole helped us take a good hard look at the sin of envy in our hearts. Today, I want to encourage us to do battle against this “passion of the flesh.” As I Peter 2:11 tells us, envy is already waging war against our soul—the question is whether or not we are going to fight back!
Here is a simple (not easy mind you) yet effective strategy for going on the offensive against envy:
1. Pray daily for the person we are tempted to envy. Persistent envy can be overcome with persistent prayer. We will find it is very difficult to go on envying someone for whom we are regularly asking God to bless and prosper.
2. Study and meditate on God’s Word. We should direct our spiritual study to better understand and mortify the sin of envy. Let’s consider verses such as Psalm 73, Proverbs 14:30, Proverbs 23:7, I Corinthians 13, Galatians 5, and 1 Peter 2 and many more. Also, I want to highly recommend one of Jonathan Edwards’s sermons on envy which you can read online here.
3. Eagerly rejoice with and reach out to the one we are tempted to envy. The temptation to withdraw and avoid—in order to spare ourselves pain—is simply selfishness. Therefore, we need to purpose not to withdraw relationally. Isolation in heart and action will only become a hotbed for bitterness and resentment to flourish.
When we put this battle plan into action, do you know what will happen? We will, gradually, over time, weaken the sin of envy in our lives. It won’t happen in one glorious moment or after a couple of tries. But gradually, the sin of envy will lose its power and influence.
So let us not give up, even if the fight is intense. Jonathan Edwards in his famous Resolutions, “Resolved never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.”
Regardless of whether we feel like we are winning the fight against envy. Regardless of how much of a challenge it continues to be, let us never slacken our fight. For it is God “who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).