The Envy Trap

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:14-18


As I read through the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20), I am struck by how human nature is the same throughout history. Jesus tells the story about men working in the vineyard, and although some of the workers came in later to work, all of the workers were paid the same wage. I don’t know about you, but I would have been just like the men who grumbled that it wasn’t fair to pay everyone the same wages because some had worked longer hours and should be compensated for more work. Jesus’ response to their grumbling has caused me to search for the point that He was trying to make. Jesus was demonstrating grace – getting what you do not deserve. Grace simply does not come naturally to most of us. It is far easier to demand fairness than to administer God’s grace. Are you struggling with the unfairness of life, trying to equalize it? Life does not always seem to be fair; however, a life of undeserved grace eliminates our need for fairness and causes us to live above the place of mediocrity into a place of unmerited favor – a place of incomparable peace and joy.

When you expect everything to always be fair, this sets you up for the “envy trap,” such as desiring something that someone else has or pursuing a goal only to have someone else achieve it. James warned us that selfish ambition and envy are traps where disorder reigns. (James 3:16) Ask the Lord to search your heart and show you if there is any envy or selfish ambition.

Choose to trust the Lord to give you what you need, and do not envy what others have. It is liberating to know that God has a plan for those who love Him. We need not envy the plans He has for others; we need only to trust Him with His plan for us.

Heavenly Father,

Help me not to be envious of what others have or what others have accomplished. Help me to remember that You have a plan and purpose for all of Your children and that I will not be left out of Your plan.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

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