WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JANUARY 19, 2023
TOPIC: DON’T BE MOTIVATED BY ENVY
BY T. O. BANSO
“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4 New Living Translation).
Many people see life as a competition between them and others. Therefore, they are motivated to do whatever they do by envy. They want to succeed in life because they are envious of what other people have achieved. But that’s the wrong reason for wanting to make a success of their lives or live a better life. Their lives should not be driven by envy.
God’s plan for you is that you will succeed in life, not because of another person’s life. His plan for everyone differs but he has good plans for all of us and we can all succeed within the scope of His plan for our lives. There is no reason for envy which leads to unhealthy rivalry and its attendant consequences. Ecclesiastes 4:4 says, “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind” (New Living Translation).
GOD’S WORD Translation renders it thus: “Then I saw that all hard work and skillful effort come from rivalry. Even this is pointless. It’s like trying to catch the wind.” The New King James Version says, “Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.” According to this scripture, motivation to success because of envy or rivalry is meaningless or pointless.
The rivalry between Rachel and Leah was needless. The two sisters were married to the same man, Jacob. Rachel was the one Jacob really wanted to marry before he was deceived by their father, Laban, to marry the elder sister. Jacob served another seven years to marry Rachel who didn’t have a child for years. Because of this, Rachael was envious of her sister. Genesis 30:1 says, “Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die!’” (New King James Version).
Rachel didn’t have to be envious. The reason she needed to be pregnant shouldn’t be because her elder sister already had children. Rachel’s envy led to a competition between the two sisters for their husbands to impregnate their two maids to have children on their behalf. The maids did. Rachael and Leah began to do a pregnancy competition, even using their maids! Rachel eventually became pregnant. God remembered her, listened to her, and opened her womb. She had a son and said God had taken away her reproach (Genesis 30:1-24). She shouldn’t have been envious of her sister in the first instance because God had a plan for her. Unfortunately, Rachael died in the course of being delivered of her second son (Genesis 35:16-19).
Don’t be envious of anyone. Let your pursuit of success not be motivated by envy. You were born to succeed. God didn’t create a failure. The reason you should succeed is not because of another person’s success. As Zig Ziglar said, “Success is the maximum utilization of the ability you have.” Success is not competing with another person or trying to surpass another person’s ability but maximizing the ability God has given you. Success is becoming whom God has ordained you to be.
Many people are unable to enjoy their blessings because of the blessings of other people whom they think they must catch up with and surpass. And when those people achieve something new that they have not achieved, they continue to pursue it and compete with them because of envy. They are not content to enjoy their blessings or what they’ve achieved or allow other people to be a blessing to them.
We see these envy-motivated efforts in different human endeavours and in the ministry. A friend could be motivated to pursue a project or buy something because he is envious of his friend, not because he needs it or has money for it. He may go into debt because he wants to wear, use, or possess something like his friend, failing to acknowledge that he doesn’t have the same financial capacity as his friend or he may not need it. Thus, he puts himself in a financial problem.
Also, a minister could be envious of another minister because of the property he has acquired for his ministry or the programme the ministry has done and, therefore, thinks, he must do the same. He is motivated by envy not led by the Holy Spirit. Even if he achieves this, supposedly for the Kingdom of God, God is concerned about his motive. A minister may organize a crusade motivated by envy, but God is still concerned about his motive even if thousands come to Christ through the crusade.
The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:15-18, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (New International Version).
One would think that everybody should preach the gospel motivated by a holy desire but this was not the case for some people whom Paul referred to. Although whatever anybody’s motive, he was happy that Christ was preached, will those who preached the gospel motivated by envy and strife receive an eternal reward?
The Bible says on Judgment Day, each person’s work will be tested by fire. It’s unlikely that a ministerial work motivated by envy will stand the test of fire although the doers would be saved. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 says, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (New International Version).
Why are you doing what you’re doing in the ministry? Why are you doing that project or programme in your family or business? Are you motivated by envy? 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]” (Amplified Bible).
God knows the motive of everybody; He knows the secret of everyone’s heart and will reward accordingly. Don’t be motivated by envy to do anything whether in the family, ministry, business, academics, or other aspects of your life. Let God lead you to do it. Do it because it is the right thing to do or the right time to do it. Don’t copy anyone because of envy. “Then I observed that the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy! But this, too, is foolishness, chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4 The Living Bible)
Anyone can pretend and veil his motive but everybody’s motive is plain to God. “The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive” (Proverbs 20:27 New Living Translation). Don’t be motivated by envy to succeed or to do anything. “You may think that everything you do is right, but remember that the Lord judges your motives” (Proverbs 21:2 Good News Translation).
Envy is a sin and those who practise it and other sins will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21). Lay aside envy along with other sins the Bible talks about in 1 Peter 2:1. The Bible says where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there (James 3:16). As Proverbs 14:30 says, a heart at peace gives life to the body but envy rots the bones. Instead of envying others, love them. Love does not envy (1 Corinthians 13:4).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I repent of envy in my life. I lay aside envy in the name of Jesus. My pursuit of success shall no longer be motivated by envy. Holy Spirit, help me to utilize maximally my God-given ability. Enable me to walk in love toward others and not envy them.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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