Think the love of money is bad? There’s something worse lurking around the world of Christianity–envy. A substantial amount of people in evangelical circles have succumbed to the “green-eyed monster” and it’s not a character trait that looks good on anyone, especially us. I’ve come across three accounts or stories this week that have me concerned, making me wonder “Where’s the love y’all?”
Incident #1: Envy in the Christian music industry
Years ago, when I was young and naive, I thought people in the Christian music industry were seriously ‘repping’ Christ and were spiritually mature in ministry, people to emulate. Eventually, I got those rose-colored glasses slapped off me when I found out what really goes on behind the scenes with some Christian artists. I was reminded of that this week when I watched a 40-minute interview recorded back in March 2014 of Christian rapper Emanuel Lee Lambert, Jr. aka Da’ T.R.U.T.H. On the Wade-O Radio Show, he gave a candid view of the Christian music industry and the polarization, envy, strife, and divisions that go on. Unfortunately, it reflects too much pride that spawns envy. I understand we all struggle with the flesh. However, it’s somewhat disappointing to know Christians give in to envy so easily. The whole 40 minutes is good, but the really interesting parts are from around 14:45-21:10 and 26:00-28:24.
Incident #2: Envy in pastoral ministry
This envy has displayed itself in a few ways, but one striking example is the fact that ministry leaders have been caught stealing other people’s words and presenting those words as their own. In 2012, Richard Land, the then-President of one of the SBC’s commissions, was caught plagiarizing material for his radio broadcasts. In 2013, Mark Driscoll was exposed for plagiarizing in his published work. Recently, Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv, an Oklahoma megachurch, was confronted for plagiarizing the works of comedian Danny Murphy on his blog. Plagiarism, in my opinion, reeks of envy and demonstrates a person who is envious of someone else’s intelligent thoughts, stealing them for self-glorification. (Source: Sarah Pulliam Bailey. Is pulpit plagiarism on the rise? Some blame the Internet. Religion News Service. Religionnews.com. June 4, 2014.)
Incident #3: Envy in Christian marriages
Ashley Madison, a website for married people who want to commit adultery, found out in a survey that supposedly most of the people interested in their “service” identify themselves as either Evangelical (25.1%) or Protestant (23%). Only 18% of the males and 11% of the females in the survey considered their adultery a sin. These so-called “Christians” who envy the fornicators of the world remind me of Proverbs–“Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness,” Proverbs 30:20. While some married people are so busy looking down their noses at single people in the church as if they are holier for being married, if this survey is accurate, there are a bunch of married people in church creeping around in secret committing adultery with others’ spouses. (Source: Victoria Taylor. Evangelicals are the least faithful when it comes to spouses, survey suggests. New York Daily News. nydailynews.com. June 3, 2014)
The Conclusion of the Matter
Taking all this envy into account, it’s no wonder the Bible warns us against letting envy into our lives or into the church.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? Proverbs 27:4
14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. James 3