– Duke Jeyaraj
After Andy Murray became the first Britisher to win a Grand Slam in 76 years by beating him in the 2012 US Open Final, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic showered praise on his opponent:
“I had a great opponent today. He deserved to win this grand slam more than anybody, I’m sure, because over the years he’s been a top player. He’s been so close, lost four finals. Now he has won it, so I would like to congratulate him.
“Happy that he won it.” (from Yahoo News).
Djokovic’s verbal act of doffing his hat to his opponent was refreshing to read for we live in the world were envy is everywhere and feelings of jealously are not uncommon! The tricky thing about envy is that no one can tell if you are envious, for sure. Only God who knows everything and from whom nothing can be hidden would know. And you, the person who harbors envy, would know.
Apostle Paul was like the Novak Djokovic we just read about. He could have chosen to be envious of young evangelist Apollos, who apparently was more eloquent than him (see Acts 18:24 and I Cor. 2:3). But he did not. Instead, Paul chose to “strongly” recommend the ministry of Apollos to the church in Corinth in his letter to them (I Cor 16:12). Wow! By doing this, Paul was just practicing what he wrote to the church at Philippi: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 ESV). Paul was simply following Jesus who appreciated the folk who loved to hate him, the Jewish leaders. Jesus appreciated the Jewish leaders for their discipline of searching of Scripture for long hours and for their discipline of giving to God one-tenth of items found even in their kitchens (see John 5:39; Math 23:23).
What about you? Do you appreciate the bloke in your team who is better than you in the tasks you both have to execute in the company you work for? He collects more dollars than you, perhaps. She gets more customer appreciation, maybe. Do you go green with envy when you spot some more accomplished than you in a certain discipline – be it taking photographs, be it dressing up well, be it preaching a Bible message, be it speaking the English language, be it in cooking, be it in scoring exam grades, etc? Don’t! Learn from Djokovic. Learn from Paul. Appreciate the person who does things better than you!
The only person who can truly transform your life from the cancer of envy is the one who died because of the envy of others – even the Lord Jesus Christ (Math 27:18 – Pilate understood that it was out of envy that the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus to die). Jesus died not just because of the envy of the Jews. He died as a punishment for our sins, the Bible declares (2 Cor. 5:21). Come to him who shed his blood for you on the Cross. His blood will flush you of all sin – including the sin of envy, which he clearly named as sin in one of his sin lists (see Mark 7:22). Jesus will give you the power to genuinely appreciate your opponents/teammates who are perhaps better than in you in certain matters!
Don’t forget – being envious is injurious to your health! “Envy makes the bones rot!”, the Bible declares (Prov 14:30)! Before our bones rot, let us blot the sin of envy in our heart by asking Jesus to cleanse us from it!