In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes the following on pride, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having it more than the next [person].”
We all know this is true.
It’s not enough to have the toy when your brother and sister have a bigger one. It’s not enough to have a great job when your friend gets a better one. It’s not enough to have gifts when someone else’s gifts are more recognized and celebrated.
But what makes pride so toxic is that it is easy to see in others, but hard to see in yourself. In other words, pride is the carbon monoxide of life. Hard to detect, but if you breathe it in long enough—you will be harmed. And the reason pride is so hard to detect in ourselves is because pride wears a thousand masks. But perhaps the most well-worn mask that pride wears is mask called envy.
When father pride and mother comparison come together they make an ugly baby named envy. Simply put, envy is wanting what someone else has and hating them for having it. Whereas the Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep envy is the opposite. Envy rejoices with those who weep and weeps with those who rejoice. So, here’s the question: how can I know when I’m giving in to envy? Envy has three manifestations:
When father pride and mother comparison come together they make an ugly baby named envy.
Instead of continually thanking God for what you have, you continually complain about what you don’t have. You walk into church in the morning and see that perfect family—Husband and Wife look so happy, the kids are perfectly dressed and well-behaved all the while you’re dragging a screaming kid, the baby had a blowout in the church parking lot, and you’re 20 minutes late to church for the 5th week in a row. And in the midst of wanting what others have you start to think, “I wish my kids were like their kids… I wish I had his job… I wish I was married… I wish I could afford that car.” Yet here’s the thing: nothing can suck the joy from your life faster than discontentment.
You see that someone gets what you want and instead of rejoicing with them you begin to resent them because they have what you wanted. We all know what this is like. You’ve been working in the office for years, but when the hotshot new guy shows up the boss appears to notice him more than you. And as a result, you begin to find as many flaws as you possibly can in the individual and attempt to justify why you feel the way you do when in reality, you’re just mad that they’re getting the recognition you crave. And when you begin to feel this way it’s not long until resentment matures into the third manifestation of envy…
You no longer just dislike someone because they got what you wanted; you hate them. Being bitter is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. And here’s the plain truth: if you are bitter towards someone today because they have what you think you deserve, you’re not just bitter at that person, you’re bitter at God. Because underneath all envy, the devil whispers this lie to you: you deserve more. In light of all of our sin, the only thing we deserve today is hell. God has given us grace upon grace, not so that we can look at the grace he gives to others and envy, but so that we can look at the grace he’s given to us and say, “Thank you, God.”
This article is an excerpt from a sermon I preached at College Park Church. You can view the sermon here: