Here is part 5 of the devotion on Envy.
HANDLING OTHER’S ENVY
David’s favor and blessings from God, even before the public announcement of God’s appointment of him as king was known to Saul, was the cause of Saul’s envy. The Bible recorded that David was careful in how he conduct himself. 1 Sam 18:5 in some translations like NKJV & AMP translated the verse as David “behaved wisely”. He never intentionally raised himself to be above Saul, but served Saul whole-heartedly with respect. When Saul was distressed by an evil spirit, David played music to soothe him. When Saul needed a soldier to fight, David fought. When Saul tried to kill him, David dodged but never attacked. When Saul pursued his life, David became a fugitive but never once instigated a rebellion for the wrong he suffered. Through the mouth of Saul, he confessed to David that he knew that David was blameless, saying “You are more righteous than I” (1 Sam 24:17) and “I have sinned” in 1 Sam 26:21.
More often than not, the favor, anointing and blessings of God set us up as envy targets. Solomon in his wisdom wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:4 “And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” The motivation for hard work is envy and the drive to success is the desire to be in a position that others envy. Our salvation, calling, anointing and blessings of God are God’s grace and not by our striving. The hard question is: how do we respond to other’s envy because of God’s grace in our lives? We can repent of our own envy of others, but when it is others’ envy toward us, it is beyond our control. Yet before pushing all responsibility of others’ envy away, it is crucial that we do a self-check.
Have we given honor, full respect and support to the very person who is attacking us out of envy, just like how David treated Saul? There might be hidden bias and sometimes even self-righteousness in us that might have unconsciously surfaced in our tone, choice of words, body language and even actions that added fuel to the already flaming envy. Perhaps we can be of help for the person with envy, helping him to overcome envy by our conduct with gentleness and much sensitivity, and of course undergirded with lots of prayer. In the case of David with Saul, there was no success in stopping Saul from pursuing David, but the process honed David’s character and also his dependence on God.
Why would God want to put His children in the limelight and not prevent envy? Paul writes in Romans 11:11 that “salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious” and in v14 “I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them”. We can see in Romans 11 that God’s strategic purpose is to bring Israel back to God by blessing the Gentiles with salvation. Although this verse is in the context of salvation of Israel, we can apply this same principle to the pre-believers in the world, which also includes Israel. God allows envy to remain so that this envy becomes a motivation for people to seek God, going beyond the material and worldly successes to the source. So how are we as believers to respond to the other’s envy of God’s blessings?