“In the camp they grew envious of Moses and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the LORD.”
Psalm 106:16 (NIV)
Envy is one of the seven deadly sins according to Christian tradition. It will make you a miserable person and prevent you from enjoying your life or entering the joy of others. Envy is different than covetousness in that envy not only wants what someone else has but resents the fact that they have it at all! One pastor described envy like this, “Envy asks, ‘Why them? Why do they get what I don’t have?’ Gratitude asks, ‘Why me? Why do I get all that I have?’” The best antidote to the sin of envy is a grateful heart. The problem with envy is that it shifts our focus from all that God has given us to what others have around us. It creates jealousy in our hearts.
The Psalmist recorded the trouble envy led to in the nation of Israel. It created dissension and division. It stalled an entire nation from making any progress! Sound familiar? Psalm 106:16 says, “In the camp they grew envious of Moses and Aaron, who was consecrated to the LORD.” Envy will rob us of God’s purpose for our lives. God consecrated Moses and Aaron for His purpose and they were fulfilling that purpose in leading the nation. Then jealousy and envy led to a rebellion against their leadership. Numbers 16 and 17 records the crisis in the camp as a Levite, named Korah enlisted 250 fellow rebels complaining against Moses and Aaron out of envy for power and position. Sounds like modern day politics, doesn’t it? In his commentary on this passage, author and pastor Warren Wiersbe writes, “Korah was a Levite in the family of Kohath whose privilege it was to carry the tabernacle furnishings. But Kohath was not satisfied with that task; he wanted to function at the altar as a priest (Num. 14:8-10). Pride and selfish ambition have always brought trouble to God’s people (Phil. 2:1-11; James 4:1-10). These rebels were opposing the will of God, for it was the Lord who chose Moses and Aaron to lead the nation, and so the Lord destroyed Korah and his followers.” How sad that Korah allowed envy to rob him of his high privilege and calling! As we pray for our nation in crisis, we must examine our own hearts. Am I jealous of others? Do I envy their position? Have I responded to the promotion of others ahead of me with resentment? When we repent of the sin of envy, we can be free to rejoice in the success of others and learn contentment through praise for all that God in His mercy and kindness has done for us. We are free to fulfill the unique purpose God has for our lives.