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Envy | Mike Fabarez

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
March 9, 2024 1:00 am

Envy | Mike Fabarez

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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March 9, 2024 1:00 am

It’s a problem you may not know you have. On this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, pastor, author and radio host, Dr. Mike Fabarez says it’s often undetected in your life. But it’s insidious, pervasive, corrosive, and if you knew the damage it was causing, you’d do everything possible to root it out. What is it? And how can you eradicate it from your life? Find out on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.


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And it says, I saw all the toil and all the skill and work that comes from a man's envy of his neighbor. It's that underlying drive that makes all of my work less enjoyable than God would want us to have it.

I just think the internal cost is it eats away at us. It's like something that just corrodes my peace and my joy and my love for people. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, New York Times bestselling author of "The 5 Love Languages" . Today, a problem that is often undetected, but if you knew the damage it was causing, you would do everything possible to root it out.

What is it? Find out today as we talk with pastor and author Mike Fabarez. The answer to the question, what is it, is in the title of Pastor Mike's latest book, Envy, a big problem you didn't know you had. I think it's an important issue for us and we're going to talk about it today. Gary, you have counseled individuals and couples through the years. Is envy one of those problems you saw kind of surfacing in those relationships? Oh, no, no, never, never, never, Chris. Listen, I think everybody's tempted to envy. Wherever you are in the journey, you can always see somebody else at somewhere where, oh, I'd like to be there. This is going to be a good discussion. I think it's right.

It's a problem people don't know they have. I'm glad we're going to be talking with Mike about this. Let's let Mike Fabarez put the finger on the nerve of envy today. He is the founding pastor of Compass Bible Church and president of Compass Bible Institute in Aliso Viejo, California. He's a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Talbot School of Theology, and Westminster Theological Seminary in California. He's heard on hundreds of stations on the Focal Point radio program, and he's written several books, including Raising Men, Not Boys, and Ten Mistakes People Make About Heaven, Hell, and the Afterlife. Mike and his wife, Carlin, have three children, and her featured resource is his latest, Envy, a big problem you didn't know you had.

Find out more at Well, Mike, welcome back to Building Relationships. Well, thank you.

It's great to be here, Gary. Now, you obviously think it's an important issue for us because you wrote a book on it. Why did you tackle Envy? Well, I never set out to write a book on it initially, but I had started to see so many situations here in my church, longtime pastor in Southern California, and the more I pondered what was going on here with this small group leader or this home fellowship group or this staff member conflict, I just kept tracing it back to, it seems like there's an underlying sin here, and the more I tried to diagnose it, I kept coming back to the concept of envy.

And then I happened to be preaching through a passage in Scripture where the diagnosis of Paul being run out of town was that the synagogue leaders were envious of him. And I thought, man, that's it. That's it.

And I happened to be at a conference when I had someone from Moody Publishing come up to me and said, hey, you've written books for us before. What's on your heart? Yeah, nothing. I'm just plowing through it. And then I stopped.

He started to walk away. I said, I have thought about an important issue that I haven't read much on at all out there. And I said, envy.

And I really thought when I said that, no one's gonna be interested in publishing a book on that. But sure enough, he came back and said, that sounds like an important idea. So I guess just pulling him back into the conversation, it created a lot of work for me because I was diving into the topic of envy, reading everything I could find, which frankly is not a lot in the modern era, a lot in church history, but not a lot right now. So I think there's definitely time for us to spend our open heart, open Bible, prayerfully saying, God, search me, try me, know if there's any wicked way in me as it relates to the concept of envy. And so I wrote the book and we'll see if God uses it. I hope he does.

I think he will. Well, let's define the term. What is envy? Yeah, envy. Envy is, we say it all the time. I envy you.

You're going on that trip to Europe or whatever. That's not really envy. Envy has to have an added component. Let's go back to a word that I think all of us are familiar with, the 10th commandment, you should not covet. You shall not covet. And then it gives all those examples. As a matter of fact, there's the most verbiage about examples in the 10th commandment than any other, and it really has to do with that strong desire to have a thing or a relationship or an experience that I just can't be happy without.

That's how I like to define it. This covetousness is I've got to have that to be happy. Now, there's a lot of that in our lives.

We need to fight that all the time, and it's in God's big 10. But envy is a step beyond that. Someone nearby, someone close to me, someone in my small group, someone at church, someone on my staff, someone who's in the office next to me who has that thing I think I've got to have that's going to make me happy. And now all of a sudden, I find creeping on top of that desire, my resentment that he has it or that she has it. And it can be anything. I can say, I really wish I were more fit. I wish I had smarter children.

I wish I had a better marriage, whatever it might be. And then that can be a really consuming desire. But soon as I see someone that has it and they're near me, it's not like looking at someone far away in Hollywood that has the car I want. I'm talking about the guy drives up next to me at the office in the car I want, and I start to resent him.

I find myself being critical. I find that I'm not happy with him and I'm looking at him differently because he has what I want. That really is envy. And right out of the gate in the Bible, of course, by Genesis 4, we've got Cain killing Abel because Abel had something that he wanted. And instead of just going to God, which God said, hey, let's deal with this between you and I, but he didn't do that. Instead, he fixated on his brother that had what he wanted and he became increasingly angry toward him, hostile toward him, not just critical and bitter like we can be, but he then wanted to lash out against him.

We do it with our words oftentimes. I hope we have no murderers out there who have murdered because of envy, but it is a murderous motive and we've got to check our hearts on this. Yeah. Well, you know, I often hear people use the word jealousy and envy kind of interchangeably, but I'm hearing you say envy, there's a difference between the two.

Yeah. And I can be jealous of things in an appropriate way, right? If my neighbor's hitting on my wife, I can be jealous.

And that's right. She's my wife, right? He should not be romantically interested in my wife. And there's a kind of a sense of this is mine and it's appropriate for me to protect it. Of course, I can be jealous in the wrong way as well, obviously. I can have a friend that goes golfing more often with his buddy than he does with me and I can be jealous, but I have no right to capitalize on his golf time. So there are times I can be jealous when I shouldn't be.

And that is, I want to maintain this. I want this to be mine and it's not mine. And then there are times when we want something to stay and remain mine that should be mine. And that's the kind of thing that... Jealousy, it can be good. As God says, he's a jealous God, Exodus 34, right? I'm a jealous God.

I'm so jealous. My name is jealous, he says, because you're my people and you should worship me. And I should fulfill your desires because I'm God and we should have this good relationship.

So you shouldn't be bowing down to idols or chasing something else. And that's an appropriate jealousy. But there's an inappropriate jealousy.

I want something that really is not mine to say this is mine. That's the possessiveness toward things or people that aren't really mine. But when it comes to envy, there's never a good kind of envy. There can be a good kind of jealousy that's appropriate. There's never an appropriate envy, which is a resentment and a bitterness towards someone because of something they have, whether it's an opportunity, a talent or whatever it might be. So envy is always bad. Jealousy could be right, but driving it all, I think it's fair to say, is that covetousness that I really wanna have something I don't have. And so they're all related, jealousy, envy, covetousness, but we need to distinguish envy when I start to be bitter. And I think there's a lot more bitterness in our lives than we care to think if we start looking for it. And it's ruining a lot of relationships that we have and we don't even know it.

Mike, address the subtitle of the book. Why is envy the problem we didn't know we had? Well, you know, in church history, they talked about these capital sins, the deadly sins, the seven deadly sins. And I think they rightly and intelligently started to realize that there are sins that are the source of other sins.

And some of them we understand when it happens. Anger can be a kind of foundational sin that affects a lot of other things in our lives. And envy is kind of easy to detect, but anger is, but envy is not. It's a little more of a subtle, under the radar kind of sin.

And frankly, without being conspiratorial although I think Satan is a conspirator, I think he loves to keep it under the surface. And as I said at the outset, I couldn't find hardly any modern books written from a Christian perspective about the problem of envy. But in church history, they saw it.

So I think now more than ever, the subtitle is probably more applicable than it's been in other epics of church history. As a matter of fact, the first four centuries of the church, they talked about envy all the time. Matter of fact, they said the real sin, the ultimate sin of all sins that started sin in the first place was the envy of Satan. He didn't just want something God had, but he resented God for having it and became God's opponent. And they used to preach on the fact that when we're envious, we're sharing in the first real destructive sin in the universe.

And everyone had that on their radar. Today though, I've been a pastor almost 40 years here in Southern California. I don't have people coming to me on any regularity, if at all, and saying, Pastor, I gotta tell you, I really need to confess this sin of envy. I mean, a lot of other sins, right? They've treated their wife wrong or there's pornography or whatever, but not this one.

So this goes undetected, I think, because there's not a lot of attention and it doesn't really ring the bell that some of the other fundamental capital sins ring when we engage in them. So, Mike, as I'm listening to you, I just went to the bank yesterday as we're recording this, and there is a fellow who's driving this Toyota. That was just the most beautiful car I think I've ever seen. It was this bright red and I walked in, there weren't that many people in, and I tried to figure out who it was that was driving that to see what I needed to do in order to have a car like that. And I realized exactly what you're talking about. It's like, am I going to be excited for him, living the life, or am I going to be, oh, I wish I had that.

So let me ask you this. Is there a way to identify this? Do you have an Enviometer? Is there a test I can take to see if this is somewhere subterranean in my heart?

Yeah. Well, you know, our fallen nature loves to cover any sin that we know the Holy Spirit would love to put his finger on. So I referenced the prayer earlier, but I really think Psalm 139 needs to be the starting point probably of every morning and something I end my day with, and that is that God needs to search my heart. I need to be open-handed before God and say, God, you know me, you know what motivates me, you know why I gossip today, you know why I criticize my coworker, you know why I said things that were pointing out the negative on that guy's project at work, but search me, try me, know my heart, see if there's thoughts in me and ways in me that are grievous to you. I want to be led in the everlasting way. So it really starts with being open.

And if we're an open book with God in our prayer life, and of course he knows all that's going on with us, but if we say, God, what's going on here with me today? Was there any motive? Because that's the thing. Envi is a driving motive under the surface, and to identify the motives is difficult unless we really just turn the noise down of the life, we turn our headphones off, we turn the television off, we turn all the noise off, and we get on our knees and say, God, is it there? And I think when you see it, and it manifests itself in things like being discontent, right? You get in your car, you don't enjoy your car anymore because you're thinking about that guy's car. And when that guy becomes the guy who's in the office next to you, it's even harder to be content. And now you're picking out all the reasons that guy, you know, I don't even know why he can afford that car.

He's not even that good at his job. And on we go down a road that just starts to, as Proverbs 14, 30 says, it just starts to rot our bones. We're not happy. Our hearts are all tied up in knots because we don't like what other people have when I feel like they've got advantages I don't have or blessings I don't have. And we can't rejoice with them because frankly, as the Bible says, we don't really love them. Because the first prohibition in that list there in 1 Corinthians 13 is that love does not envy.

And why did it come first in that list? When God says, here's what love is not, why did he start with that? It certainly was the first sin in humanity where you see a brother willing to raise his hand against his brother. And I do think that needs to be something where we say, God, is there a critical set of thoughts I have toward people that I'm close to, that I work with?

Is there something going on in me? And when you ask God that with a real sincere heart, I do think God has a way of just connecting the dots for us. And of course, a book like this that's going to page after page get you thinking about practical situations as you're scrolling through Facebook, looking at people that seem to have better vacations and better lives than you do. I just think we can start to recognize, yeah, it's there. It's a problem. It's creating a lot of things in my life that God wants to get rid of.

And a lot of them, it's not like this is a bad thing to get rid of this. God wants joy and contentment in our lives. And on the spectrum of joy and contentment, on the other end of it is a resentful, envious dissatisfaction with my life. And so if I can get rid of this, it's going to move me toward the things that I know God wants, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness. These are the great things God would like to do in our lives and envy is there secretly pushing it off the shelf. And we've got to say, God, help me to see this. I can't just try and double down on a lot of the good feelings.

I'd like to feel good today, God. We need to say, what is it that's causing all of this bitterness, this envious kind of rotting discontentment in my heart? And I think it just takes time for us to do that self analysis. What you're talking about is not just that 50% of it is the prayer, search me, O God. The other half of it is really listening and taking the time, like you say, of shutting the other things out. So you have to be committed to listening to what he's saying to you, right? Oh, yeah, you have to. I mean, think about it.

The Spirit is sent into the world to convict us of sin and righteousness and judgment, not just in non-Christians, but even in our life when we grieve him, when we quench him. He'd love to point it out, just like a parent. If we're trying to discipline our children to let them know they're doing something wrong, if they were to really sincerely ask, hey, Dad, what am I doing wrong here? It's not like we're going to obfuscate and be evasive. We're going to tell them.

We're going to say, this is it. I've been waiting for you to ask me what the problem is. I really want you to see it, because it's for your own good. And I just want us to spend more time thinking about it. And after we read this book, which seems like, why would I read a book on sin? We need to.

And then we move on to the next. Is there greed, right? Is there anger?

What are the kinds of things going on in my life that are leading to all the destructive kinds of things that I just haven't taken the time to connect the dots on? Yeah. Search me, oh God, and know my heart. I think it's a prayer God will answer. As you said, Chris, if we're listening, get your pencil ready. He will bring it to mind. Exactly. You know, Mike, you write in the book about the internal cost of the sin of envy.

What are those internal costs? Yeah. Well, we do want to have what God would like us to have when it comes to the fruit of his spirit. And I'm telling you, there's no possible way we can truly love someone and be envious of them at the same time, right?

The more I envy, the less I love. I can't be content and enjoy the good gifts that God gives me if I'm busy being resentful of my neighbor who has what I would like to have. I can't enjoy that kind of peace of mind that God would like to give me.

He wants us to be at peace. I think of the book of Ecclesiastes, right? And it's such a negative book, it seems, but it always stops and says, be good if you just enjoy the things you have. Enjoy your wife, enjoy your job, right? Take pleasure in your work. And yet it's that book that I found a little verse I just must have read over a thousand times and never stopped to take in in Ecclesiastes 4.4. And it says, I saw all the toil and all the skill and work that comes from a man's envy of his neighbor.

And I thought, man, it's right there, right? It's that underlying drive that makes all of my work less enjoyable than God would want us to have it. And so I just think the internal cost is it eats away at us. It's like something that just corrodes my peace and my joy and my love for people. I mean, when I look at the verse, like in Romans, where it says, I'm supposed to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, that's kind of how I read it. The first part is the one I want to focus on because I love feeling compassion for people that are hurting. Easy for me to get a call, someone that's just been in an accident and they're hurting, to take my day, however happy it is, and go there and shed a tear at the hospital, holding their hand, getting them through their trial, sitting down and praying with the family. I can really weep with those who weep. It's not that hard.

I see their pain and I want to get involved in it. But when I want to rejoice with those who rejoice, especially here in California, where it's almost impossible to buy a house it seems. I remember for years, I probably took 15 years in my marriage till I could finally buy my first tiny little house.

And I saw other people halfway into their careers than I was, just married and they're buying big houses. And I'm thinking, how can I really rejoice with them in this? It ruins my relationship.

It just changes so many things inside of my heart and I can't have that kind of loving relationship I know that Jesus has for my friends. I'd like to have that. And to get there, I've got to deal with envy. I think our listeners are identifying with what you're saying. There are several references in the book about the way envy disrupts our relationships with people.

Can you give us some examples of that? Yeah, I think of 1 Samuel 18. If you had just discovered a young guy in your army who came out of nowhere delivering cheese and bread to his brothers and he takes down the great Philistine champion, I think you'd be like, wow, so great. I mean, I run a few organizations if I found the great new hot shot, who's just killing it, metaphorically.

That'd be great. But Saul can't even rejoice that he has David on his team, right? Because he starts to hear the praises of the people in his kingdom. I love the way it's even put, the women were singing the song, David, right? David, David. Well, Saul struck his thousand, but David his 10,000. And instead of him saying, wow, I'm so glad God, you've brought this great warrior onto our army. We're a better country because of David, right?

He can't. It says Saul was very angry and this saying displeased him. And he says, they've ascribed to David and thousands and to me, thousands, what more can he have but the kingdom? And from that day on, it says, Saul eyed David, which is really what the word envy means.

We put an eye on them, we furrow our brow, and now we're critically looking at them waiting to see if there's something I can criticize. And that's what Saul did. And instead of rejoicing that God's building a team for him, Saul's jealous. And we would say he's jealous for all of the songs of the women.

But more than that, now his eye is fixed on David looking for all the negatives until he finally picks up the spear and throws it at him. So we've got to recognize it's going to ruin our relationships, particularly with those who have something going for them that we have less of. And we have to see it for what it is and stand back and say, I would love for the people in my life, like my kids, to hire people on their team that do a great job. But we struggle. We struggle to see it for what it is. God is handing out his blessing, sometimes to other people, in greater measure than he is with us. And we need to realize that that's just the way it is. God is a God who has the right to be generous with what he has.

He can hand it out however he'd like. And when he does, if I love those people as I ought, I should rejoice in that. I should be glad that they're doing well in their jobs. I should be glad that their marriages are good, that their kids are getting scholarships, that their son hit a home run on the Little League team.

I really want to learn to rejoice with them. But that means that I've got to accept sometimes the lot that God has given me, as the book of Ecclesiastes says, and say, this is what God has given me. And I'm going to rejoice in it. I'm going to enjoy what I have, and I'm going to be a good steward of what God has given me.

And I'm not going to spend my time eyeing everybody else who I'm afraid is surpassing me. Do you think, Mike, this is behind what I sometimes call the criticism culture in which we live? In which we disagree with somebody, we do everything we can to discredit them, to try to get them fired from their job. It's just permeated our culture in these days. And it seems like this is behind all that. Absolutely.

Anyone who does well and gets applause, you see a lot of people, they just put their spears, they sharpen their swords, and they go after them online and they'll criticize them. That is the culture we're living in. Yeah. Now it's interesting that you bring up God's sovereignty in this book.

Why is that an important doctrine to highlight when you're talking about envy? Yeah. Well, you know, I know people that I just have had the privilege of being friends with that just have such a mind and such a talent and such a skill that I've been working so hard in my own life to make the most of. And I think they just have it. They've got it. They've got a brain that remembers everything they study.

A microphone turns on and they just speak so eloquently. I just think they've got something I don't have. And it's not that I can just work harder and have the brain that they have. And I recognize that this is just something I need to realize is about God's ultimate giving of gifts.

He dispenses beauty and brains and brawn the way He wants. And there's certain things I just need to recognize instead of pouting about it that God has given me and He's given that person that. It's just like I happen to live in a very normal neighborhood here in Southern California and across the street is like the nice neighborhood.

I mean, when I say nice, I mean really nice. I'm very happy for my house and just to exercise the principles of my book, I'm very pleased that God gave me a house. I actually have a yard and for California that's hard. I can't reach my neighbor reaching out my window, which is awesome. But across the way, those houses, I can see them right across the street from my backyard. They have amazing houses, amazing.

So I could look at that all day long and be just pining away to have that experience. And what I need to do is recognize in the sovereignty of God, I make the money I make, I have the abilities that I have, I can qualify for the loan I can qualify for and that's all. And I have the house I have ultimately, as Paul would tell the Corinthians, because God gave that to me. I've been a good steward, I think of what God has entrusted to me, but I can't do more and I can't have more. And in that, that's okay. I'm okay. And I need to rejoice in the fact that I have a little lot here that I exercise my dominion over.

I got to cut my grass, I got to head, I got to trim my bushes, I got to spray for the insects in my yard, all of that. This is my domain. And I got to say, God, thank you for this. And because the guy across the street in the big houses over there in that big neighborhood, he can sit there and flip through magazines in the Bahamas and say, well, look at this.

And everyone can play this game, always looking up the chain. And I'm just saying, it'd be good for us to say, God is sovereign in giving us what he gives us. He's given me the wife he's given me, the children he's given me, the job he's given me, the opportunities, the abilities.

I just need to just rejoice in that. And that really is the message of Ecclesiastes. I want to find joy in that and rejoice before God that he's given me what he has. And that really will bring the kind of contentment that allows me to work not driven by envy of my neighbor, but just out of the glory of God.

How can I make the most so that God can say to me one day, I hope, well done, good and faithful servant. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. You can find out more about today's program topic at our website, You'll find some great resources there, a list of seminar locations coming up for Dr. Chapman. You can hear a podcast of the program and find out about our featured resource there, which is the book by Mike Fabara's Envy, A Big Problem You Didn't Know You Had.

Just go to You know, Mike, before we took the break, we were talking about God's sovereignty in giving different gifts to different people. And we need to be satisfied with the gifts God has given us. And, you know, I think at least Christians many times do think of that in terms of, you know, well, I don't have the gift of music or I don't have the gift of this or that sort of thing, you know. But when it gets to things that we purchase, you know, like how you mentioned houses and all, where we have a part in it, you know, it's our work and accumulating things that gives us the money to buy this house or that house.

We're not quite as clear to see God's sovereignty in that area as we are in the terms of gifts or spiritual gifts. Do you think that's true? Yeah, and that's true. And I can think about the reality of what I choose to purchase with what I have in terms of what's in my bank account. But when I'm really concerned about comparing my life and trying to keep up with the Joneses, well, then I'm always going to maximize my purchasing power on a car or a house or whatever, and I never leave room for the joy of giving and generosity. And I just think when you pull that kind of competitive spirit out of our hearts, right, we're no longer just trying to max everything out. And maxing things out for myself is where I'm not really concerned. I shouldn't be, at least as a Christian.

It really doesn't matter. Paul says, I've learned the secret of contentment. I can have a lot, I can have a little. But really I want to do, right, because I'd like to maximize my gifts to glorify the Lord. I'd like God to be pleased with not only how I take care of my yard, but how I give generously to people that are in need, or even people when they have a baby and I'm giving them money for a stroller or whatever. I want God, I want to be a blessing to people with what I have. And if you take the element of envy out of it, then all of a sudden my life gets more holistic and I'm not just trying to have something someone else has.

Yeah, yeah. So in a way, envy is a disguised dissatisfaction with what God has given us, is what I hear you saying. No, no, that's absolutely right. I mean, there is so many passages that remind us that the appetites of our selfishness, right, are really the core of so many problems, right? And that's why greed, that's another capital sin. I don't know if I can handle writing two books in a row on this kind of major sin, but someone should do it.

Someone listening to me should do just a new book on the problem of greed. But it's really related in that I can't handle the problem of having someone near me, close to me, having those things. I've just got to police all of that by recognizing God's good hand upon my life. And life is fleeting, right?

I mean, we're going to be here just for such a short period of time. I just want to be a blessing. I want to be helpful. I want to do something good and I can't be as helpful as other people maybe that have a broader platform or a more extensive circle of influence, but I've got what I've got and I want to do well at that because I'd like God to be honored by my life.

And that really can't work very well if envy is just that corrosive pining away in my heart that I'm just not happy that someone else is smarter or more beautiful or more effective or wealthier or has more opportunities. I can't go there. I have to fight this. Yeah.

Yeah. I hope our listeners are listening because I think what you're saying is so, so true. Talk to parents. You say that parents can fuel the sin of envy without even knowing it.

What do you mean by that? Well, I drew from the wisdom of an old preacher, William Law, and I just came across a passage at just the right time as I was writing this book in one of his books and he talks to parents and I thought, this could be written today. It was just such timeless truth about how sometimes without even recognizing it, we're telling our kids to not just be the best they can be as stewards of what God has given them, but really just to outdo everyone else. We want them to get the MVP trophy on the soccer team. We want them to get just one of the two scholarships that their school offers. We want them to get into the great schools that very few of their peers can get into. We create in them a really competitive spirit and our kids start to define their worth and their significance by whether or not they're doing better than the next guy. William Law addresses that in old language and I quote a little passage from his writings in my book, but I think it's so important that we don't have our kids build their identity based on how they measure up to the other kids.

That's just so hard to do. They have classmates, they get graded, they know how the awards are passed out. One of the ways I think in the modern era, we've tried to cushion our kids' feelings is to give everyone a trophy.

Well, that's not the answer either. The answer is to teach our kids something about God's sovereignty and our stewardship. Being a parent of three, now they're all adults, but I look back and they all had different gifts and skills.

One of them was a great athlete, one of them was a great scholar, one of them was a great conversationalist and a great friend. I recognize I can't sit there and even have one measure of success for my own children. How in the world can I raise my kids thinking they've got to outdo all the other kids in whatever they're involved in, whether it's their swim club or the chess club or whatever it is?

I need to have our kids put into practice the things I'm trying to say all of us as adults need to put into practice. When you see, I'm speaking to the lady now maybe that's listening to us and says, I'm not as fit as that gal. I'm not as pretty as that gal. My teeth are not as straight. My hair is not as good.

Okay. The goal is not to say, well, you better do everything you do and get to your plastic surgeon as quick as possible so that you can outdo her. That's not the goal. The goal is to find the joy of God in the contentment of knowing I am who God has made me to be. By God's grace, we are who we are and we want to find joy in that. And in our kids, it seems it's hard to do because sometimes we're living out our own quest for significance through whether our kid gets the best scholarship or goes to the best college or hits the most home runs in a season. And we've just got to stop that.

We really do. Yeah. Let's talk about how this works in church. Does Envy show up in church?

And if so, what's it look like? Yeah. And maybe that was why it was so easy for me to really relate to what I was writing on. You know, some sermons you preach and you think, yeah, a lot of people are probably struggling with this, but I'm not. But here's the thing. I just don't know any pastor, any missionary, any Bible school professor who doesn't struggle at a real profound level like every other businessman, every other housewife with the problem of Envy. I can't go to a pastor's conference without everyone sitting around and they want to talk about their budgets and their buildings and how many people they have coming and how many services they're running. And there's all of this chest bumping about how we are measuring up with everyone else. And we walk away feeling better if I have the biggest church or the biggest ministry or my radio program is on the most stations. And that's the kind of thing that I realize is just as prevalent in ministries and churches, among clergy as it is among any other segment of the society. So, you know, I write this book knowing I struggle with the same things everyone struggles with in this.

It's no respecter of persons or career. And in the church, obviously it's there. You think about people at a job.

I look up the street here, I can see the buildings there in Irvine up the road. And I think, in those high rise buildings, I can think about these, you know, these $3,000 suit executives really being envious of one another. Well, all I have to do is go to our women's Bible study. I can walk into our women's Bible study today meeting this morning on our campus and know that as they're there, they are still, although they're talking about the Bible, they're talking about their prayer lives, they're talking about, you know, raising their kids for the Lord.

There's all the envious kinds of temptations in our churches as there are in any competitive atmosphere in sports or business or music or entertainment. Everyone is struggling with this. I quote Groucho Marx, which I just think he's such a witty man in this book. And he says it so, you know, transparently how hard it was for him as a comedian to hear other comedians get the roar of the audience. And I think that's the same way, right?

It's the same. We struggle with someone across town, I'm speaking now autobiographically as a pastor, when his church is growing and making a bigger impact in our community than mine. And I think, why is that a problem? Why can't I rejoice in that, right?

If Groucho Marx's life is given to making people laugh, how great that he has other people that make people laugh, but he can't. And he struggles and he admits that he struggles and pastors can and women in a women's Bible study can, if we just are honest enough with ourselves to ask ourselves, why do we have these resentful feelings when someone says something that really is reflecting something I would like to be able to say, but I can't say. They have something I don't have. They possess a talent, a beauty, a skill that I don't have. And that's where we need to police our hearts and learn to love one another the way Jesus taught us to, but it's just a lot harder than we first think.

Yeah. Because in the church also, it's the whole diversity of the body, different parts of the body that are illustrated in 1 Corinthians 13. We're not all eyes, we're not all hands. We all have different roles to play in the local church.

And what does Paul say there? He says all of them are important. We have to have an equal concern for every part. And yet we don't.

It's the one who gets the solo at the Christmas musical, right? We've got to change our thinking. Mike, why is envy so much easier to see in other people than to see in our own heart? Well, it's the same reason it's easier to see pride in other people than it is in my own heart. The same reason it's easy to see any error, right?

Romans chapter two is a classic text that says we are so good at seeing sin in other people. It's really hard to turn it around. I live in the midst of a lot of freeways here. And when someone merges into my lane and almost clips my front bumper, you know I'm quick to say all the things as to why they shouldn't have a license, what's wrong with these people, this guy can't drive. But when I accidentally drift into someone's lane coming onto the freeway and I go, oh, I'm sorry. I was distracted.

I didn't see you. And I justify myself so quickly with a bad lane change and I belittle and criticize so harshly, so quickly when someone has a bad lane change into my lane. And all I'm saying is that's just natural, sinful self-preservation that we have as people that are quick to find the problems in other people without any sympathy, without any sense of what they might be going through. And so quick to exonerate ourselves with a lot of justification and rationalization for why I have the bitterness I have towards someone to get back to our topic.

Why do I criticize that coworker? Why is Saul criticizing David? Why is it that the Pharisees were criticizing Jesus? Even Pilate could see it because they were envious of him.

That was the problem. And so we have to recognize that we are people that are great with our sin meter as it was put in other people's lives, but that's why we must reflect the word of God in our own personal lives every single day. We've got to open up the Bibles and our Bibles and say, God, here is the word of God. I want to look in the mirror of God's word and be able to find freedom. And the freedom is that when I see something out of place by God's grace and with his help, I can make the necessary corrections so that I don't have this same problem tomorrow.

And we just need that time with the mirror of God's word. Yeah. Wow. Well, you say that envy thrives among peers. In what ways do you see that? Yeah. And that was a great line from one of the very few Christian books I could find published recently.

Tilly Dillehay wrote it for Harvest House, and she just said it is a sin nearby. It really is. I don't sit here and think, you know, Brad Pitt, I'm bitter toward him. I can't believe he's driving that Ferrari and lives in that big house in Bel Air. I don't have those feelings.

I may covet his Ferrari, but I don't envy him. It's the guy nearby. It's Cain and Abel.

It's the Pharisees and Jesus who are trying to talk to the same people, but they're all running off to hear Jesus and not the Pharisees. It's someone in my sphere of influence. It's someone I'm rubbing shoulders with or looking at across the way. It is easier for me to envy a guy here locally who's doing what I do and doing it better than it is for someone on the East Coast. See, it's always a sin nearby because those are the people that affect the kinds of affections or the leveraging of opportunities that I feel like are right within my grasp. Why can't I do that?

Why can't I have that? It's someone in my field. It's someone in my career. It's someone in my discipline. And so that's what we need to watch out for. And if we think it's just, well, I could envy anybody.

Well, that's not true. I mean, I guess you could if you're a strange personality, but most of our personalities, it's always going to be someone close by. It's someone in my church.

It's someone in my career. And that's where we need to police our hearts the most. So perhaps one of our listeners might be thinking, or more than one of our listeners might be thinking, okay, okay, I see that I need to deal with envy. But seeing it is a good step. But how do I get to the root of this?

How do I deal with this? Well, I wrote this book knowing that a lot of people, they basically want simple answers. And so from the very first paragraph, I try to make it clear that the Christian life is going to be a battle.

It's going to be tough. I have passions that are waging war against my soul. At the end of Paul's life, he could say, I fought the good fight. I just think we need to be a little bit more militaristic in our thinking, as Jesus taught us to about sin. He said, if your hand's causing you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. I understand that's hyperbole, but there's a truth in that, which is, are we doing all that we can? To quote Hebrews chapter 12, he says, you haven't yet even shed blood in your striving against sin. And I'm just saying, as Colossians 3, 5 says, to put to death the things that are fleshly or earthly in me, is going to mean that I start to be a little bit more ruthless about things that don't belong in my heart.

And I think we really have kid gloved so many things that we identify, particularly if it's not something so immediately explosive and destructive. It's envious. You see, that seems like it's a fly in the ointment, but whatever, maybe I can just work around it.

We need to wage war against it. And that's a militant motif that may not be that popular these days, but I don't think when we get before the Lord at the Bema Seat Judgment and he evaluates us as his servants, if he's going to be all that sympathetic to our mild approach to the sin in our life, I think he's going to say, why did you not really get to work? Roll up your sleeves and say, this is going to be something you deal with. And I think one of the ways is you get a partner, you get a Bible study partner, you say, I'm dealing with envy. I'm reading this book on envy. I want to put it to death. I want to come and talk about it once a week and confess this to you. I want to make sure that my heart learns to love my coworkers and my competitors and not see them as rivals.

I want to stop scrolling through Facebook just so that I can feel like I don't have what I want in my life and that person has it, but they don't deserve it. We have to put it on the table first with God, and we've talked about that in Psalm 139, giving God that open door to look and convict us. But then I think we need to take the steps that are laid out in the second half of the book and we need to do it with someone that I think we're willing to be completely honest with. If you're a guy at a church, pick a guy friend that's going to help you stay accountable for this particular sin. We do that with other sins, but we haven't really done it with this sin and it causes just as much trouble as just about any other sin, so we might as well put that one on the table and on the list of accountability to discuss once a week with a good Christian friend.

Yeah, excellent suggestion. I was thinking the prayer, you mentioned Psalm 139. One way to say that is, God, show me, help me, see myself as you see me. God, I think you sit there having asked God that kind of question. God will help you see yourself as he sees you. I know earlier with our kids, I used to ask myself, what if my kids turned out to be like me?

I made some significant changes in my life after asking that question. What if all God's children were like me? You talk also about love, which is a word that I like.

So how is love the solution to much of what you write about in this book? Yeah, when you talk about kids, I just think that's a good example. In God's grace, he instills a kind of love in our hearts for our children.

I happen to have two grown sons. They both went into the pastorate and I didn't expect that nor asked them or pushed them in that direction, but they're both doing what I'm doing every week. Because of this God-given wonderful gift of love for those kids, I love them before they could do anything but soil their diapers and cry and ask to be fed, that kind of gracious love that God gives for a parent. I've always wanted them to have advantages I didn't have. I've always wanted them to go further than I could go. I just naturally want them to do better than me. And so now that they're in my career and they're doing the work I have been trained to do and they're getting their degrees and they're doing all the work that I do, I have no trouble when I hear that their ministries are growing or that more people because of their evangelism are coming to Christ or because they've written something that has made a difference in someone's life. I rejoice in that so naturally and I would just love to see them do so much more than me.

And I think to myself, why is that? It's because I really love them. I don't love them perfectly, but I sure love them better than I love the guy in the office next to me right here. And I gotta say, God, I really wanna learn to love the other people around me as your children, like I love my children. And I know you want your children to do well. The guy in the office next to me, God, you want his marriage to be good. You want his children to do well. You want his writings and his preaching and his studying to be so good this week.

You love him with a kind of love that I don't have yet, but please give me that love for them as your children, the way I love my children. And that would be without any reservation, please God, let them do better than I'm doing. I have no trouble with that.

I want them to excel. And I think that is a good measure of love. And then it gets me back to that great verse, love does not envy.

Of course it doesn't. But I don't love people well enough and I want God to give me that love. In Romans chapter five and verse five, it says, the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. So if we ask him to help us see our neighbors as he sees them and to wish and want the best for them, we are less likely to be envious of where they are.

That's right. Well, Mike, let me thank you for being with us today. And let me thank you for taking time to write this book because I think your title is pretty much accurate. We don't, it's not something we have a felt need about us, you know, and I think it's going to open the eyes of anyone who reads it. And I want to encourage our listeners to read this book.

I think you're going to find it helpful. So God bless you and your ministry and continue to be sensitive to what God brings in your mind, not only to preach, but what to put in book form. So God bless you. Well, thank you, Gary.

It's been great to be with you today. And I do hope the book becomes a helpful tool in God's hands in many lives. It might be something you can go through together in your small group, a Sunday school class. That might be helpful.

Look for it. It's titled Envy, A Big Problem You Didn't Know You Had, written by Mike Fabarez. You can find out more about that book and him at our website, Again, go to And next week, 12 qualities to help you build a healthy, strong, God-honoring family. Hear about inconvenient parenting in one week. Well, a big thank you to our production team of Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-09 03:04:27 / 2024-03-09 03:25:00 / 21

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