Thursday, April 21, 2011


TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 27:3-31

TO CHEW ON: "For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy." Matthew 27:18

Envy - what a seemingly small and innocuous motivation was behind the death of Jesus. Who of us hasn't, at one time or another, referred to ourselves as being envious of someone for their possessions, talents, or lot in life?

The Greek word used in the original Matthew 27:18, "because of envy"--  phthonos --  means simply "envy, prompted by envy".

When we speak of envy we refer to "a feeling of resentment or discontent over another's superior attainments, endowments or possessions. It is often accompanied by dislike, ill-will, even hatred" - Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary.

(Note that the Scriptures below are not linked to Bible Gateway. If you view this post online, hovering your mouse over the reference will bring up a little text box with the verse inside.)

Envy is an emotion that threads through the Bible. A quick look at examples show its destructiveness:
  • Cain killed Abel because he was envious of the fact that God had accepted Abel's animal sacrifice (in compliance to God's directions) over Cain's sacrifice of produce (Genesis 4:5,8; 1 John 3:12).
  • Envy caused the Philistines to sabotage Isaac's wells (Genesis 26:14).
  • Envy was rife in Jacob's family:
- his wife Rachel was envious of Leah (Genesis 30:1).
- His uncle Laban's sons were envious of him (Genesis 31:1).
- He favoured Joseph, which caused envy and hatred to grow among his sons (Genesis 37:3-5, 11).
I could go on and on with examples but I'm sure you get the picture.

The scary thing about envy is how common it is, and how readily it springs up in anyone — in us.
  • Asaph the psalmist warns against the righteous envying the wicked (Psalm 73:3).
  • Solomon warns of envying our successful neighbour because of his hard work and skill (Ecclesiastes 4:4).
  • Proverbs characterizes envy as "rottenness to the bones" (Proverbs 14:30).
  • Paul calls it carnal behaviour (Corinthians 3:3), anti-love (1 Corinthians 13:4), the opposite of walking in the day (Romans 13:13).
  • James refers to envy as sensual, demonic wisdom whose symptoms are confusion and every evil thing (James 3:14-16).

The wake-up call is that whether or not we are envious is entirely within our control:

"Do not let your heart envy sinners..." says Proverbs 23:17.

"Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another" says Paul in Galatians 5:26.

A  bit of envy is not merely a natural and harmless reaction to life's perceived unfairnesses. Envy is not okay. It's a dangerous little murder seed that was powerful enough to initiate the death of Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear God, please show me the envy that is hiding inside me. Help me to see it as the poison it is and to destroy every trace of it. Amen.

MORE: Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday:

"Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great & Holy Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, is the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday" definition from Wikipedia.

And here is the liturgy for Maundy Thursday. 

Bible Drive-Thru

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