Life Of A Disciple In The World 3

FreeThe Life Of A Disciple In The World
The Seven Deadly Sins
Session 3: Envy- Evil Eyes

Core Teaching:            Envy leads to many other sins.  We all envy.  We rarely confess this sin however.  We even go out of our way to tap into other people’s envy.

Session Goals:            This session shows exactly how envy can tamper with God’s intentions for our lives and how students can resist envy in some practical ways.

Supplies:                        Blank Labels or Name Badges, Bibles, Whiteboard/Newsprint, Markers, Masking Tape, Sunday’s Newspaper, a copy of the Student Leader Help Sheet for each discussion/small group leader.

Memory Verse:            Philippians 4:13 NRSV

I can do all things through him who strengthens me..

(Write on the Board and encourage Youth to memorize this week.)


Genesis 4:1-10 NRSV
1 Samuel  18:5-9 NRSV
Genesis 37:17-24 NRSV
Matthew 20:1-16 NRSV
Galatians 5:16-21 NRSV


Class Session

Opening Prayer- Student

Announcements, Attendance, and Offering- Teacher


Introduction to the Lesson- Teacher

Envy.  It is a major cause of international conflict.  It is a major source for class conflict.  It hides in racism, sexism, and ageism, among other things.  It causes great sorrow.  It brings no joy.


“Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all.  Sloth may not seem much fun, nor anger either, but giving way to deep laziness has its pleasures and the expression of anger entails a release that is not without its small delights.  In recompense, envy may be the sublest- perhaps I should say the most insidious- of the seven deadly sins.  Surely it is the one that people are least likely to want to own up to, for to do so is to admit that one is probably ungenerous, mean, small-hearted.  It may also be the most endemic.” 

(Joseph Epstein, Envy, Oxford University Press, 2003, page 1)


Envy is the pain we feel when we perceive another person possessing some object, quality, or status we do not possess.  It is related to our pride and our quest for recognition, fame, glory, or power.  When the envious person is unable to get what they desire, they usually hope that the person envied will lose the desired thing and the one full on envy may even conspire to make that happen.


Envy becomes malicious when the envious person seeks to deprive the envied person of what he or she has, even though if they succeed in doing so, the desired object, quality, or status won’t thereby be transferred to the envier.


One of the “Top Ten” Biblical injunctions is against Envy:


“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17 NRSV)


Envy can be intense and can affect all parts of our being when we interpret our lack of what another person has as somehow lessening our worth in general.


Have each person take a blank label or name badge are write the following with a marker:

I Am a Unique, Unrepeatable Miracle of God!

Then have them stick it on there shirt and ask them to wear it the rest of the day.


Small Group Discussions- Student Leaders

Key Questions (These should be answered during the discussion below)

  1. What is Envy?
  2. Can Envy kill?
  3. What are the 5 symptoms of Envy?
  4. How are Envy and Love different?

Big Issue

The word envy is from the Latin invidia, meaning “to look maliciously upon.”  The New Testament Greek phrase for envy is literally to have an “evil eye,” to look upon with evil.  Christians have called envy the sin of the evil eye.  It has within itself its own destructive components.


The built in punishment for the sin of envy is that there is no gratification in it; it can enjoy nothing.  Envy’s appetites never cease.  It is insatiable.


“Envy is the consuming desire to have everybody else as unsuccessful as you are.”  (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking.)


Faith Link

The First Murder– Read Genesis 4:1-10 to the group.

  • Ask someone to the story in their own words.
  • What happened here?
  • How does envy enter the picture?

q  Envy can lead to brutality, even to violence toward those closest to us.  Ultimately it can destroy people, relationships, or even one’s spirituality.

  • What is Cain like?  What is Abel like?  Why are they different?
  • What did Cain want from God?  Did he get it?

q  While envy is the sin no one confesses, it is the sin of which most of us are guilty.  Comparing ourselves to others and desiring what they have or wanting to be who they are is the heart of envy.

  • “I wish I were as smart as she.”
  • “Oh, to be handsome like he is!”
  • “Why can’t I be as athletic as she?”
  • “If only I had his popularity.”

The Green Eyed Monster– Read 1 Samuel 18:5-9 OR Genesis 37:17-24 to the group.

q  “The grass is always greener on the other side” is an expression often used because what is “over there” is often just beyond what we have.  Our grass may be green, but we resent another’s grass being greener.

  • Who has envy in this story?  Why?
  • Was there anything wrong with what the envious person had?

q  There are 5 common symptoms of envy:

  1. Malice- Ill will with a desire to do someone harm.
  2. Jealousy- Usually a sin among equals, wishing you had at least as much as the other person.
  3. Dejection- Being sorrowful over our own lack of good.
  4. Hypocrisy- pretending one thing when the opposite is true.
  5. Lovelessness- not loving oneself.
  • How are these 5 symptoms present in the Scripture you read?

When We Deny God’s Goodness And Mercy- Read Matthew 20:1-16 to the group.

q  This story seems to violate good economics, fairness, and plain old common sense.  It is hard to be harsh on the worker’s who grumbled that an injustice had been done to them.  Jesus confronts potential grumblers head-on: “Are you envious because I am generous?”

  • What do you think about this Scripture?
  • Why do you think Jesus told this story?
  • How would you react if you were in the story?

q  Envy counts the cost, love and mercy do not.  No injustice was done in this story.  Everyone was paid what they were promised.  Some were just not satisfied with their pay.

q  Envy refuses to recognize God’s goodness towards us.  It also refuse to rejoice in God’s goodness toward others.

  • Is what you envy in another person actually God’s gift to him/her?
  • Is what others find enviable about you God’s gift to you?
  • Which worker are you like the most?

Life Application

Read Galatians 5:16-21

  • How does this Scripture address Envy in your everyday relationships?

q  Envy is so malicious it does not restrict itself to desiring what others have, to being sorrowful over another’s success and joyful over their failure, to using unworthy means to acquire what it covets; it often takes a strange twist in our lives: WE desire others to envy us.  We envy being envied so to speak.

q  There is a sick psychological fulfillment which comes from being envied by others:

“Thorstein Veblen, one of America’s most brilliant economic theorists, claims that the spending habits of people are highly influenced by the psychic enjoyment which comes from getting others to long for what they possess.  It is Veblen’s contention that it is possible to get people to buy products that are not particularly superior in quality, by publicizing widely that the product are very expensive. This Practice which Veblin calls conspicuous consumption, motivates people to buy expensive automobiles because the buyers know that most other people in the society know that these are very expensive.”

(Tony Campolo, Seven Deadly Sins, Victor Books, 1987, Pages 96-97)

  • Are you more likely to envy others or hope they envy you?
  • Do you spend money in a way to get others to notice you?
  • Do you spend money in a way that help you “keep up” with what your friends have?

10 Practical Ways To Resist Envy:

  1. 1.      Reconsider the assumptions you have about what makes you a worthy person
  2. 2.      Deemphasize the value of objects you envy
  3. 3.      Think about good things you have that the envied person does not
  4. 4.      Compare yourself to those less fortunate than you rather than those more fortunate than you
  5. 5.      Think that the person you envy deserves the object or quality you want and that they may be a good reason you do not have it
  6. 6.      Notice how irrational your envy is- it hurts you without improving your situation
  7. 7.      Think about how potentially dangerous your envy is- it could lead you to harm yourself or others
  8. 8.      Realize that your envy is inconsistent with the kind of person God created you to be
  9. 9.      Associate your envy with negative qualities
  10. 10.    Cultivate feelings and thoughts that are incompatible with envy and the emotions it invokes

q  Take the Sunday morning paper and cut out a few articles that give tangibles examples of what has been discussed today.  Post these on the wall with a label above saying “Envy” so they may be referred to in future weeks.  If there is not time for this in class, ask for volunteers to get it done before next week.


Joys and Concerns- Teacher– Write these on a piece of butcher paper.

Closing Prayer- Student

Lord, I perceive my soul deeply guilty of envy.

I had rather thy work were undone than done better by

another than by myself.

Dispossess me, Lord, of this spirit

And turn my envy into holy emulation;

Yes, make other men’s gift’s to be mine, by making me

thankful to thee for them.


(Thomas Fuller 17th Century)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *