Responding to Another’s Success
Envy is a feeling common to humanity. It is also a monster—a giant that can eat anyone alive.
How do you struggle with envy? Who are those in your sphere of influence or your field of vision who are experiencing favor or success, and with whom in some way you wish to swap places? We must be careful. “The odious passion of envy,” writes George Lawson, “torments and destroys one’s self while it seeks the ruin of its object.” Envy tends to destroy the envier.
They did not yet know it, but Joseph’s brothers were on the road to the evils of deceit, malice, and slave-trading their own sibling—to the most detestable forms of cruelty. The first step on that road was their jealousy of him. But they did not see it, and so they walked towards actions they presumably had not countenanced when Joseph first started sharing his dreams of grandeur.
We must learn to see our envy and to deal with it. So how can we handle others’ success without succumbing to bitterness and jealousy?
First, we recognize that God is sovereign over the affairs of man. God determined for Joseph to have what he had and be what he was—and He determined a less significant position for Joseph’s brothers. If they had been prepared to consider this, although it might have been hard, they would have been spared the self-inflicted pain of their envious hatred.
Second, we turn to God in prayer. F.B. Meyer, a great 19th-century preacher, once told of how another preacher came to minister in the same area in which he was already ministering, and suddenly there was a drift from his congregation. Jealousy began to grip his soul, and the only freedom he could find was to pray for this fellow pastor—to pray that God would bless another’s ministry. Prayer loosens the grip of envy on our hearts.
God is the one who sets up and brings down. If Joseph’s brothers had grasped this truth, they would have had no occasion to be envious. God is also the one who gives us every breath as a gift from Him. If they had grasped this, they would have had more desire to give thanks than to grow bitter. Today, search your own heart, recognize and repent of any jealousy that has taken root, and bow in humility and thankfulness before your sovereign God.
1And Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
2“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
3Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
4The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
5Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
6The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
8He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,
and on them he has set the world.
9“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
10The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
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