Text Box: From the account of Joseph and his brethren and from the other scriptural incidents, we can see that envy is a major force in THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES. Satan arouses and incites envy and jealousy wherever there is an opening. The Adversary knows full well that envy is a most powerful spiritual weapon to use against the seed of the woman. Envy always bri¬ngs about corruption; fre¬quently, it also causes destruction.





































The Story of Joseph:
A Battle Against
Envy and Jealousy

by Leroy Gardenier

"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." Genesis 50:20
     A neat little devotional book that my wife gave me for Fathers' Day contains a very telling commentary on verse 30 of the 14th chapter of the book of Proverbs: "A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones." "Envy is like a cancer", the commentary states. "It starts small, but it spreads quickly, and it is extremely destructive. It causes us to be dissatisfied with ourselves the way God created us to be. It says that we think we deserve more than we really have. It is a form of selfishness which causes us to be less than we should be. When we conquer envy in our lives, then we grow strong and sound and we have God's favor. It is good for us to learn to be happy with ourselves and the things we have. It is better to thank the Lord for our many blessings than to curse Him for the things we feel cheated without."
       As we read chapters 37 through 50 in the book of Genesis it becomes obvious that Joseph, the next to youngest son of Jacob, was mightily blessed and favored by the Lord. God gave Joseph special dreams and signs about his personal destiny. God granted Joseph the great grace of adaptability even in the most adverse and difficult of circumstances. This special person was gifted with such wisdom and insight that he not only correctly interpreted crucial dreams but he dealt honestly and openly in all contingencies. Joseph was elevated to the second highest position in all Egypt; yet, he ever remained a dutiful son, respectful to his aging father and a tenderhearted brother. He favored his younger brother, Benjamin, but he also lovingly forgave his older brothers who first conspired to murder him and then settled on selling their own flesh and blood into slavery.

Envy of the Patriarchs
       A very low point in the CONFLICT OF THE AGES came when "...the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt". Acts 7:9 But envy and jealousy are not confined to Old Testament times. In his epistle to the early Christians, James the Apostle solemnly warns: "If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth... Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." James 3:14-16 In the earliest chapters of Genesis Cain envies his brother Abel's acceptance from God and ruthlessly murders him. Abimelech, jealous of the favor shown Abraham, drives this "friend of God" out of the land. Korah and On resent Moses' leadership and rebel against the one to whom God spoke "face to face". Haman is exalted in wealth, title and power in the Median Empire. His envy of Mordecai, a lowly, righteous Jew, brings disaster on himself and his whole dynasty. Psalm 73, verse 3 seriously warns the righteous about envying the foolish or the prosperity of the wicked. The presidents and princes of Persia despised and envied the prophet Daniel. They plotted to discredit and do away with him. The eighteenth verse of the 27th chapter of Matthew's Gospel reveals that the chief priests and elders handed Jesus over to Pontius Pilate for crucifixion because of envy. Envy was the motive behind the persecution heaped on Paul and Barnabas by the Jews of Pisidian Antioch. (Acts 1­3:45) 
It is a very sad, but certain, critique of the basic depravity of human nature that God's concern for and kindness toward an individual can, and often does, result in hatred for, insane jealously of, bitter envying of, persecution, rejection and even physical violence against that favored person. Psalm 63:3 states "...Thy loving kindness is better than life." The patriarch Joseph believed on and acted on that important biblical truth in every situation all the days of his fruitful life. Joseph knew in the very fiber of his being that God was with him and was looking after him, so the circumstances of his life mattered very little to him. Joseph kept his eyes on God, not on others. He measured his own righteousness by what God revealed to him about himself and not by what others thought of him. Joseph was immersed in God, the things of God and in the love of his neighbor. Like the apostle Paul, his successor in the far distant future, the patriarch Joseph could affirm: "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise". 2 Cor 10:12 Secure in his relationship with God and with such a truthful, humble attitude there is no room for envy of any kind in the true saint of God.

Envy and Jealousy Corrupt
Both from the account of Joseph and his brethren and from the other scriptural incidents already referred to, we can see that envy is a major force in THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES. Satan arouses and incites envy and jealousy wherever there is an opening. The Adversary knows full well that envy is a most powerful spiritual weapon to use against the seed of the woman. Envy always brings about corruption; frequently, it also causes destruction. The spirits of contention and competitiveness, so deeply entrenched in our families and in society at large, belie the profoundly naive notion that most of us have no problem at all with envy or jealousy. In style, fashion, commerce and sports contention and competition are so much a part of the everyday game that few are even aware that they are engaging in these acts. Galatians 5:15 sternly warns: "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." We have reached a place in our modern society where the "biting and devouring" are not only permitted and tolerated, a general sense of insecurity and paranoia combined with a particular spirit of contention and competition has encouraged and validated a kind of personal ruthlessness that has long since overstepped the bounds of law, religion and family trust. The merciless lack of concern Joseph's brethren demonstrated toward their helpless younger brother is now epidemic in our land and around the world. Personal ruthlessness has been preached not only from our church pulpits and academic lecterns but has been almost systematically promoted and practiced in our business board rooms, our legal courtrooms, our family dining rooms and, most sadly, even in our private bedrooms. As far as social and personal relationships are concerned, we have sown the wind and we are already beginning to reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7)! As the prophet Jonah ruefully learned: "They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy" (Jonah 2:8). Many of us have spent so many years "observing lying vanities" practicing our man-made or self-made religions and upholding ethnic and family traditions - that "vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers" (as the apostle Peter puts it) we are not even conscious that the "bitter envying and strife" that James refers to is so deeply lodged in our hearts.
      None of us can roll back the hands of time. Neither can we reverse the trends of this present era when "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13). But those of us who have a story and a song about praising our Savior all the day long can surely take to heart the revealing story about Joseph and his brethren. From it we can gain deeper insight into THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES. We can also more fully appreciate the dire consequences that result from jealousy. We can more clearly understand that the personal and general struggle against envy is, in all reality, one of the most serious, yet satisfying BATTLES OF THE LORD.
       Preachers sometimes paraphrase our opening Scripture citation. They state Joseph's reassuring words to his deceitful, fearful brothers as "Satan meant it for evil, but God turned it to good." Whatever "lying vanities"; however so many "lies against the truth" have been a part of our personal lives, the following statements and questions regarding both our words and works can be both a comfort and a challenge:

"Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.
My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet
water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs?
So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?
Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom."
  (James 3:10-13)

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