The Emptiness of Envy - Ecclesiastes 4:4-6
January 31, 2023, 8:45 AM

“And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. The fool folds his hands and ruins himself. Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”

Solomon other problem that pits neighbor against neighbor and people against people. People often do what they do out of sense of competition and jealousy instead of self-fulfillment. Envy results in resentment instead of working together with others. Envy causes rivalry among the workers. Envy is the opposite of contentment.

What if an employer hires a secretary to work on getting a report out? Then later he brings in another secretary to work for a couple of hours to help complete the project. He gives the first secretary her regular salary, but out of gratitude for coming in, he gives the second secretary the same amount of money. Is that just?

Part of our interpretation of justice is from man not from God. In fact, that is the very story that Jesus gives in Matthew 20:11-15 of people working in the field. Murmuring employees were motivated by greed. They wanted more money than those who did not work as long or as hard. Rather than rejoicing, there was resentment against the employer and those hired later. People who were content with their pay no longer were. The other people were able to feed their families and provide their needs. Would it have been better if the employer just gave money away as an act of charity?

This breeds discontent. We see skyrocketing salaries with athletes because other teams have to outdo each other. The comment I hear today is, “I understand it’s a business.” It is not about team loyalty or fan appreciation, It’s about competitive pay salaries.

How can this affect the church? The problem we have is the question of envy and rivalry. The question in our mind is how we ourselves compare to others, not how we relate to God. Are we carrying out what God’s call is on our life without regard to others?

The disciples will argue over who is the best of all the disciples, who will be able to sit on the right and the left hands of Jesus.

Cooperation among Christians can easily fall into competition among Christians. What is in our hearts? Discontentment, bitterness, and hatred result too often from envying or resenting others accomplishments or position.

had it all. His was the biggest and best. His was the richest and wisest. He knew in his heart it was because of the grace of God. He also looked around and noticed people who were at peace when they withdrew from the frenzy of competition. They looked to God for their inner contentment. He started well, but had a problem with how he finished.

Application: Today reject any thought of discontentment and replace it with Thanksgiving.

Prayer:  Lord, help me, like Paul, to learn to be content in whatever You have chosen for me.