Pride and Envy

The Bible strongly warns Christians against the sins of pride (e.g. Ps 101:5; Prov 16:5; Isa 2:12; Rom 12:16; James 4:6) and envy (e.g. Mark 7:22; Prov 14:30; 1 Cor 13:4; Gal 5:21; James 3:14; 1 Pet 2:1). We detect these sins easily enough in others, but how can we examine our own hearts? Particularly when it comes to our service in the body of Christ, it is possible for these sins to sneak in subtly under false pretences. Although they are rarely listed together in Scripture, I think there is a good deal of overlap between them, and they can be detected if we consider the attitudes we have when we compare other people’s gifting and ministries with our own.

Pride will affect the way we think about others who we consider to have less gifting or are less spiritual than ourselves. Envy will affect the way we think about those who have more recognition, success or status in our own area of gifting.

Pride and envy stop us receiving from other people who minister to us. We won’t be taught or served by them, as we know better (pride), or resent not being in their shoes (envy).

Pride and envy stop us rejoicing with other people as they are used by God in ministry. We don’t want to share the limelight with someone else (pride), or we resent them having opportunity that we would like ourselves (envy).

Pride and envy stop us recognising the gifting other people have for ministry. We begrudge them praise and opportunity because it detracts from the our own status (pride), or we have a critical attitude because we are bitter that they are doing what we want to do while we are not (envy).

What’s the remedy for these obnoxious attitudes? Humility. May the Holy Spirit help us to search our hearts and repent of any pride and envy we find there.

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

3 thoughts on “Pride and Envy

  1. What you say makes sense to me. I wonder if you’d be willing to go a step further and discuss HOW, practically, I can combat these sins in my own heart. Thanks!

  2. Hi Adam,
    You ask a good question. I don’t know if I have the full answer but here are two ideas.
    1) Gratefulness. Pride thinks I deserve all the good stuff I have so is ungrateful, and envy focuses on what I don’t have – equally leading to ungratefulness. We should be deliberately thankful people.
    2) Meditating on the gospel of grace. Nowhere is human pride seen to be more foolish than we consider that our sin was such that Christ had to go to the cross for us. And nowhere does envy seem more foolish than when we recognise the true riches that we have been freely given in Christ

  3. Thank you for posting this. I am learning to not complicate inner-self issues. It can be, at times, challenging to look honestly at myself. Thus, it is sincerely appreciated when the truth is set before me. I know these truths. I see them in God’s Word; yet there are days I grapple with them. The “ah-ha” revelatory experience must repeat. Always satisfying and empowering. New beginning. Each time closer to bearing the image of Christ, one layer at a time. Thank you!

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