Once you start to think about it, envy seems to be the root cause of lots of the world’s troubles. But I don’t think I’ll tackle the world’s troubles, and I’ll turn instead to the troubles at home, which is where the world’s troubles start anyway.
Sibling rivalry is a cliche for good reason: it is very common. What is it that turns siblings into rivals? They are competing for the same thing. What thing? As I mentioned in the last post, it is often for Mom or Dad’s attention and approval. If Johnny always gets a pat on the back, and Susie always gets a lecture, then it is pretty easy to figure out which kid will be tempted to be envious and which kid will be tempted to be conceited. Parents can (unknowingly) set their kids up for this, and we ought to know better.
After all, we were once all kids ourselves. Which one does Dad prefer? Whom does Mom praise the most? Why can’t some kids do anything right? The conclusion is obvious: parents should be wise in making all the children feel loved, special, and accepted. Love should be unconditional, not based on appearance or achievement.
However, even if the parents are doing a good job on the home front, kids will still be tempted to envy over something. It could be athletic ability, appearance, intelligence, winning the spelling bee, riding the bike first or best, having more friends, or getting a shinier toy. The thing parents want to do is teach the children that they are all on the same team and should be fighting sin, not each other. They are not rivals.
Parents must work hard to preserve the peace among the children and have zero tolerance for fits of anger, fighting, or any display of unkindness or unpleasantness. If you look the other way or tune it out, you are allowing envy to grow unchecked in your household, and when it is harvest time, it won’t be pretty. Your daughters will be competing for attention from the boys, and your sons will be competing against their own teammates on the basketball court. Your children will take envy with them where ever they go, and envy breeds strife.
These two sins, envy and strife, are mentioned together in several places in the New Testament (Rom. 13:13, 1 Cor. 3:3, 2 Cor. 12:20, Phil. 1:15, 1 Tim. 6:4, James 3:14-15). If you have strife, you can be pretty sure there’s some envy tangled up in it.
Don’t be rivals with your own children. Mothers, don’t compete with your beautiful teenage daughters. Enjoy their growing beauty without envy. Sisters, don’t compete with one another. Enjoy one another without rivalry.
When we forsake envy, and we refuse to be rivals, we are not giving the enemy a foothold in our relationships. Instead, our relationships can prosper and flourish under God’s blessing, and He is glorified.