Welcome to the Onward Christian Soldiers Discipleship Class. I am Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society and pastor of Gospel Light House of Prayer International. The purpose of this time together is to teach young believers everything they need to know about their faith in Jesus Christ and provide them with the knowledge they need to live victorious Christian lives.
Our key Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
— PRAYER —
Our lesson today is titled “How to Overcome Temptation, Part 137 (Envy)”
In this section of our Onward Christian Soldiers discipleship class, we are looking at specific temptations that are, as the Bible says, “common to man.” We are looking at what the Bible says about these sins so we can be aware of its dangers and so that we can hide Scripture in our hearts to use when we are tempted.
The sin that we are looking at today is the sin of envy. This is the fifth sin in a list of 12 temptations that comes from two sources — one ancient and one modern. The first source is a list that was developed by monks in the early church called “the seven deadly sins” or the “cardinal sins.” The second source is a Barna survey from 2011 which tracked the top temptations Americans admitted to struggling with.
Today, we are looking at Ecclesiastes 4:4-6. (Remember, the text of this lesson is made available online after each class, so you can go to our website Gospellighthouseofprayer.com, click the “Onward Christian Soldiers” banner on the home page, and begin to learn these verses by heart throughout the week.)
Ecclesiastes 4:4-6: “Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit. The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh. Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.”
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Alphonsus Liguori said, “The soul that loves Jesus Christ does not envy the great ones of this world but only those who are greater lovers of Jesus Christ.”
John Vianney said, “Envy follows pride; whoever is envious is proud. See, envy comes to us from Hell; the devils having sinned through pride, sinned also through envy, envying our glory, our happiness. Why do we envy the happiness and the goods of others? Because we are proud; we should like to be the sole possessors of talents, riches, of the esteem and love of all the world! We hate our equals, because they are our equals; our inferiors, from the fear that they may equal us; our superiors, because they are above us. In the same way, my children, that the devil after his fall felt, and still feels, extreme anger at seeing us the heirs of the glory of the good God, so the envious man feels sadness at seeing the spiritual and temporal prosperity of his neighbour.”
The Bible Knowledge Commentary says about this passage, “The first inappropriate incentive Solomon referred to was envy of others. He said that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor and that envy is futile or meaningless and a chasing after the wind. Some uncertainty exists about the meaning of 4:5 because the metaphors folds his hands and “eats his meat” refer elsewhere to sloth and self-destruction. However, the view that Ecclesiastes 4:5 refers to a commendation of contentment with the simple needs of life with a minimum of effort (i.e., folding his hands) fits in better with Solomon’s recommendation in Ecclesiastes 4:6 to be content with one handful accompanied by tranquillity rather than a lot accompanied by toil and anxious striving, which he characterized as chasing after the wind.”
In today’s passage, King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, warns us against envy. First we are told that enviousness is vanity, meaning that it is pointless or useless. We are wasting time when we are envious of the things that others have done. Ask yourself this: will the spirit of envy you have bring any benefit in your life? No it won’t. In fact, it prevents you from doing something yourself. Second we are told that enviousness is a vexation of spirit. Not only is envy futile, it consumes your thoughts and has your spirit constantly disturbed by what others are doing. Envy is allowing people to live rent-free inside your head. Instead of enjoying the peace of God and meditating on His word, you are in a constant state of exasperation because you are consumed with what others are doing. David Guzik said, “The Preacher thought of those who gain success through toil and skillful work – and how it simply brought envy and sometimes hatred from others. This common jealousy of success made life seem like vanity and grasping for the wind. For if a man act uprightly and properly in the world, he soon becomes the object of his neighbour’s envy and calumny too. Therefore the encouragement to do good, to act an upright part, is very little. This constitutes a part of the vain and empty system of human life. The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh answers the tendency for those jealous of the success of others to be lazy. Like fools, they fold their hands and do nothing – and so waste away. Yet it wasn’t the success of their neighbor that made them waste away; the foolish, lazy man consumes his own flesh. This expression is really equivalent to ‘destroys himself.’ Better a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind. The Preacher reflects on the value of contentment. It is better to have less and be content (with quietness) than to have more and constantly be grasping for further success.” Instead of consuming your own flesh with envy, get to work doing something productive and what God wants you to do with your life. Instead of engaging in the vanity of envy, be thankful and content with what God has blessed you with.
Carl Daw wrote:
Gracious Spirit, help us summon
Other guests to share that feast
Where triumphant Love will welcome
Those who had been last and least.
There no more will envy blind us
Nor will pride our peace destroy,
As we join with saints and angels
To repeat the sounding joy.
If you struggle with envy, take this passage to heart and take heed to it the next time you face that temptation.
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If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Saviour, John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The Bible also says in Romans 10:9 and 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and I want to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
Until next time, May the Lord Bless You!
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.