First Things Last

Overcoming Envy: The Danger of Comparing Ourselves to Others

Dan Franklin
Feb 11, 2024    42m
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Are you trapped in the cycle of comparing yourself to others, leaving you feeling inadequate and resentful? In this powerful sermon, we unpack the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard and confront the danger of comparing ourselves to others. Discover how this toxic mindset blinds us to God's grace and generosity, fostering envy and a sense of entitlement. Learn practical strategies to break free from the trap of finding your identity and worth through comparison. Explore the transformative power of rejoicing in God's blessings upon you, enabling genuine happiness for others' successes. Find freedom to root your identity fully in Christ's love and reclaim a heart of gratitude. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. Also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Jen Butler: [00:00:19] Hi, I'm Jen Butler, I have the privilege of serving with our youth ministry EXIT83. Today our passage is from Matthew, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7“ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ 8“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ 9“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ 13“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” This is God's word.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:21] Amen. So before we jump into this parable, which is a great and frustrating parable that we're going to go through. I did just want to take a minute, I know Phil mentioned it earlier, but to really encourage you to be with us this coming Wednesday, as we have our Ash Wednesday service and a service that enters us into the season of lent, which leads up to Easter at the end of March. And Ash Wednesday is not something that we do because we think God has commanded us to do it, it's something that we voluntarily decide to do because it's a way of us focusing our hearts on a season of time where we really want to take in the fullness of what we celebrate when we celebrate Jesus sacrificial death for us on Good Friday, and his triumphant resurrection for us on Easter Sunday. And so Wednesday is going to be a great time together. I really encourage you to come.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:18] And also, I just encourage you as we get ready for that, whether you'll be here on Wednesday or not, to begin prayerfully considering if the Holy Spirit is leading you to participate in this season of Lent, where Christians all over the world celebrate lent or observe lent by deciding for the 40 days leading up to Easter to give up some good gift that God has given us to focus our hearts and our minds more and more on Jesus. So for some, this means giving up something that you consume. So, you know, giving up chocolate or giving up meat or some kind of dessert or something like that. Sometimes it means giving up social media or giving up some sort of entertainment thing, there are all kinds of ways that we do this. And the point is just to identify something that if you gave it up, it would kind of disrupt your life, and through that disruption, you have an opportunity to focus more and more on God's goodness to you in Jesus. So I just encourage you, first of all, I encourage you to be here on Wednesday, it's going to be a great time, and really prayerfully consider how is God calling you to use the idea of fasting to focus even more attention on Jesus and on what he's done for us? Wednesday is going to be great. I hope that you're here.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:40] And I'm also really excited about this parable that we get to go through. Parables are stories that Jesus told to make a spiritual connection, to make a spiritual point. And the parable that we get to go through today in Matthew chapter 20, it's confusing, it's frustrating for some of us, it's going to be enraging when we read what goes on here. It deals with some pretty core things about ourselves, it deals with where we find our identity, it deals with how we compare ourselves to other people, and it even has a cryptic phrase that most of us are going to think we know what it means, but it's going to turn out that most of us are wrong about what it actually means when Jesus says it. Now, we don't get this with every parable of Jesus, but often what we get when Jesus tells a parable is that there's some sort of occasion, or there's some sort of lead up to why he decides this parable is necessary, and we get that with this one, we get context.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:40] So even though our parable begins in Matthew 20, I want us to talk about some things that happen in Matthew 19. So if you were looking at Matthew 19, you'd find a famous story, which is usually referred to as the story of the rich young ruler. This guy comes to Jesus, he's a prominent person in the Jewish community, and he comes to Jesus, and he says, what do I need to do to get eternal life? Jesus responds to him by saying, keep the commandments. Now, if you're a Christian, that seems weird. It's not because we don't think the commandments are good, but because we don't believe that anybody is saved by keeping rules. We couldn't keep the rules, and so God saved us by sending His Son to be our Savior. So it seems weird, it seems like Jesus’ sort of has given the wrong answer by saying, keep the commandments. But Jesus has the long view in mind, and he's looking to bring this man to a point of decision. So he tells him, to keep the commandments. The man says I have kept the commandments ever since I was young. And he's probably not saying I've never sinned, he's probably just saying I'm an observant Jew, and for the most part, I've been the law keeper. I've kept the law. And he's probably right, he probably has been an observant Jew and an observant law keeper. And so Jesus then says, all right, there's one more thing you lack, sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and then come follow me. Jesus knows every heart, and for this man, he knew that the idol in his heart, the thing in his way of fully following Jesus, was his love for his money. So Jesus tells him to do this, but the man goes away, and he doesn't take Jesus up on the offer. He decides to go home and not sell all his possessions, and he goes home sad.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:36] And after this, Jesus turns to his disciples to debrief, and he says it is really difficult for rich people to enter the kingdom of heaven. In other words, it's difficult for rich people to become Christians. In fact, he says, it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for rich people to become Christians. Now, this should concern every one of us in this room, because by world and historical standards, we are all rich people. And Jesus says it's really hard for rich people to become Christians. It's really hard if you're rich to enter the kingdom for a variety of reasons, but maybe the most obvious is this, if you're rich you have more to lose. If you're a poor person and you've come to Jesus and you're like, I will give up everything for you. You're like, it's not going to take long, there's not much to lose. If you've got lots of money in the bank and you're coming to Jesus and you're saying, I'm willing to give up everything for you, you know you stand to lose a lot. And Jesus is recognizing a lot of people are not willing to do that, so he says it's really hard for rich people to become Christians.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:47] And then Peter hears this, and Peter often is the one who speaks up on behalf of the disciples. And Peter decides to speak up, and he actually sees this as sort of an opportunity for self-congratulation. Here's this rich young ruler who didn't decide to follow Jesus because he didn't want to give up everything, and so in Matthew chapter 19, verse 27, we read, Peter answered him, Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Peter says we, and he probably means the 12 says, we have been willing to do what that guy wasn't willing to do, what most people are not willing to do, and we were the first on the Jesus bandwagon. We left everything behind, many of us left our careers behind, or at least we left behind a lot of our ability to perform our jobs. We spent time away from family. We've given up a level of social stability because now we're kind of outcasts. We've given up everything to follow you. What kind of reward, what is there in store for us? What are we going to get as the first to follow you?

Dan Franklin: [00:09:56] And Jesus' response is at first great and then deflating. So let's look at the great part first, verse 28, "Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Is this good? Yeah. Okay, come on, 9:30 service, I count on you guys. This is great, this is a great promise. Jesus is going to sit on a throne, the 12 are also going to sit on thrones, this is a great promise. And then he says one word in verse 29 that seems to deflate Peter's tires. He says, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife e or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." This is a great promise, but that one word in there is pointed straight at Peter. Peter says, what are we going to get? And Jesus says, great things, Peter, a hundredfold for everything that you've left behind. Peter, there is no sacrifice of faith that you've made that won't be so rewarded that you'll forget what you left behind, that's what you're going to get, Peter, you and everyone who leaves stuff behind to follow me. Jesus doesn't take this as an opportunity to exalt the 12, he says, you guys are going to get what everyone gets for following me, which is a reward beyond what you've sacrificed. Then he says this cryptic phrase as the last thing before the parable. He says, "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."

Dan Franklin: [00:11:52] The last words before the parable, and if you were paying attention when Jen was reading, this is also the outro to the parable in Matthew 20:16. He reverses it a little bit, but he says the same thing. So the last will be first, and the first will be last. This is the intro and the outro of the parable, which means this is the point of the parable. This sums up the message of what Jesus wants to communicate in this parable in Matthew 20.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:18] So now let's take a look at it, starting in verse 1, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard." So when he says, the kingdom of heaven is like this, Jesus is in essence saying, do you want to know how God rules as a king? Because God is the king? Do you want to know how God rules? He rules like this landowner behaves in this parable, and the landowner goes out to the marketplace, and he wants to hire some day laborers. So most of us who are in this room, who have a job, we have a job that we have regular hours or a salary, we have expectations of how much we're going to work and how much we're going to get paid. That's not the way that day laborers functioned, every day they'd go out and they would just hope that some landowner or some business owner would hire them for the day. And if they worked that day, they would have money and food for that day. every day they would just go out looking to get hired. So he goes out at the beginning of the day, and the Jewish workday was 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., there were some breaks in there, but it was a 12-hour workday. He goes out at 6 a.m., finds a bunch of workers, and he says, come to my vineyard and work, and I'll give you a denarius, which was a very generous day's wage, it was very solid. All of them would have signed on to this, and they'd be like, where do I start? How do I get there? I'm in for a denarius for a good day's work. He sends him into the vineyard, and they start their workday.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:56] Verse 3 says, “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right. So they went." So we're still in the AM, but it's three hours into the workday. So these guys, if they go into the vineyard, they're not going to put in a full day's work, but still nine hours that's pretty solid. All right, you're going to work the last nine hours of the day, he doesn't promise them a denarius this time. What does he promise them? Yeah, whatever is right, whatever is just. In essence, he says, trust me, I'm a good landowner, I'm a generous person, come on into the vineyard and I'll give you whatever is right, it will be worth your while.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:42] But it goes on further, it says “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing." This is starting to feel kind of ridiculous. Now he's got twelve-hour workers, nine-hour workers, six-hour workers, and three-hour workers. Just the last three hours of the day, they're going to get in. There still has been no further promise of exactly what they're going to get, he probably said the same thing to them that he said to the nine-hour workers, I'll give you whatever is right.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:13] If you think this is ridiculous, look at verse 6, "About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around." In the Greek, it's translated here as five in the afternoon, which is accurate, but in the Greek, it literally says at the 11th hour. With one hour left in the workday, he goes out and finds others who haven't been hired, "Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7“ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’" Now, the way this parable is unfolding, it's weird for us as 21st-century people reading this for Jesus' disciples, for first-century Jews, the behavior of the landowner here is just bizarre, this is not normal practice. It certainly is not normal practice to even go back at 9 a.m. and look for workers, let alone to go back at 5 p.m. and look for some guys that you can hire on for the last hour of the day, this is bizarre behavior, and it points to one almost certain reality. And that one almost certain reality is that the reason he kept hiring people was more about benefiting them than about benefiting him. It was less about him saying, I need more workers, and more about looking at them and saying they need work. In fact, just think about this, I feel like this is not a crazy theory here, why do you think these 5 p.m. guys hadn't been hired? They probably were not very desirable workers. Maybe some of them had handicaps or disabilities that weren't going to allow them to do the work well. Maybe some of them were on the older side, and they weren't going to be able to keep up with the others. Maybe some of them had a shady past or a criminal record, and other landowners didn't want to bring them in. These guys needed work, and the landowner invited them in for the last hour of the workday.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:27] So then we read in verse 8, “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’" Just for a second, do you see those two words in there? The last and the first? So they line them up, we've got the one-hour guys, the 11th-hour workers right here ready to get paid. We've got the 3 p.m. three-hour workers, the six-hour workers, the nine-hour workers, and then way over here, we've got the first. We have the 12-hour workers who put in the full day of work, and it's time to settle up. And then we read in verse 9, “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius." They each got the full day's, a generous full day's wage, for how many hours of work? One hour of work. These guys would have been over the moon, these guys would have been so excited, like, are you kidding me? We were about to go home, and I have to tell our wives it just didn't happen today, and suddenly we got hired for the last hour of the day, and he pays us for the whole day, he pays us a denarius, they were ecstatic.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:38] Do you know who else is ecstatic? These guys way over here, these guys are excited too. Verse 10 says, "So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more." These guys are over here and they're saying, this is great, he just paid the one-hour workers a denarius, what will there be for us? Do you remember Peter's question to Jesus back in chapter 19? We have left everything to follow you, what will there be for us? Now the 12-hour workers are thinking the same thing. And by the way, if you're about to rip on the 12-hour workers, you would think the same thing, all of us would. All of us would think, well, this is great, if they got paid a denarius, what am I getting, twelve? Like what's happening here? This is great news. They expected to receive more. But each of them also received a denarius.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:39] Verse 11, "When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner." And once again, so would you, so would all of us. We were reading, a lot of times on Saturday night we read the passage for the sermon at our dinner table and just kind of talk about it as a family. And we were talking last night about it, like, this parable makes us mad, this is infuriating, it seems unfair, it doesn't seem right. We're like, I know I'm supposed to be on Jesus' side, but I think I'm on these guys' side. Like, I think these guys have a right, they have a reason to be upset. In verse 12, they speak up, "These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day." How dare you? We are the first and you've made them, the last, equal to us.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:38] They have a real complaint, but we get the response to their complaint from the landowner, starting in verse 13, “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?" And as much as we might have a moment ago felt like I'm on these guys' side, we hear the words of the landowner, and there's no arguing with these words, there's nothing that he said that can be critiqued. He said I haven't been unfair to you, and he's right, he hasn't been unfair to them. He says you agreed to the denarius. And they're thinking, he's right, we did. In fact, we were excited to sign on for a denarius. It does bring up the question, why are they upset? They're not upset about what they got, they're upset about what they got.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:50] It's not a matter of saying that they've been cheated. In fact, they think about this for a second, if the foreman had just called them all together and secretly paid each one, and so the 12-hour workers had no idea what anybody else had got, they would have gone home happy. They would have gone home saying, a full day of work and got the denarius, this is great. They're not mad about what they got, they're mad about what they got. And so he asked the penetrating question, are you envious? Are you jealous? Literally, in the Greek, it's do you have the evil eye because I'm generous. And then he once again says that cryptic phrase, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” That this sums up the message of the parable.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:37] And again, I said at the beginning, even if you're not really familiar with the Bible, you've probably heard this phrase before at some point, somebody has said the first will be last, and the last will be first, and it's a phrase that makes the round and just our society. And I think most of us think that we know what this means, that this means Jesus does this thing where things get reversed, you know, the first becomes the last, and the last becomes the first. The humble become exalted, and the exalted become humble. Things are turned on their heads. But just think about the parable for a second, a great reversal did not happen in this parable. The last did not end up being exalted over the first, and the first did not end up going down below the last. What ended up happening to the first and the last? They were equalized. It wasn't that one was raised above the other, they were equalized. When he says the last will be first, and the first will be last, he's basically saying they're indistinguishable now. The first are the last, and the last are the first because they all got paid the same in this parable.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:40] The point that Jesus is making in this parable is not that one is going to be raised up, that like, hey, these people seemed important, but now they're going to seem unimportant, and these people seemed unimportant, and now they're going to seem important, he's saying it's equalized now. Now think for a second about how this would have struck Peter and the other disciples. In fact, one other thing to mention, some of you may have picked up on this. In verse 13 when the landowner finally speaks up, he's responding to what they said, but then it says very specifically that the landowner spoke to one of them. Want to guess who that one of them is? It's obviously Peter, this all is tying together, he's speaking directly to Peter as the representative here. He is here striking at something that's at the core for them, they're looking at themselves as the 12 and they're like, we're the OGs, like we are the first. We signed on at the beginning, what are we going to get? And Jesus is like great things just like everybody else. And this deflates them. I mean, think about it for a second, think about being among the first and being told that the last words, the deathbed confession, do you guys know in Luke there is basically a deathbed confession? We get the thief on the cross next to Jesus, and as his life is falling away, he turns to Jesus and says, when you come into your kingdom, remember me. And Jesus says I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise. Talk about the 11th hour, talk about the last moment that Jesus is here saying, you guys are going to get great stuff for following me, just like that thief on the cross who confessed with his dying breath.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:35] Now, quick question, especially if some of you are more familiar with the Bible, is Jesus here saying that there will be no difference of rewards in heaven? I don't think that he is. There are too many other passages that seem to indicate that, no, there are different levels of reward, so I don't think that he's saying there aren't different levels of rewards. Instead, he's looking to give a warning. He's saying if you are making a judgment about how satisfied you are with God's goodness to you based on what somebody else has got, you're going to end up in a bad position, you're going to end up begrudging God his generosity. And this tendency to find our identity, or to find our satisfaction in comparison with others, this is not just a first-century problem, this is very much a 21st-century problem too, and Jesus has a message to all of us through this parable. And the message that he gives to us in this parable is that when we compare ourselves to others, we blind ourselves to God's grace. We got these 12-hour workers, they could have gone home happy and rejoicing. We were hired and we were given a generous wage, and instead, they're mad, not because of what they got, but because of what they got. When they compared themselves with others, they blinded themselves to the generosity and grace of the one who hired them. And we as believers in Jesus get to remember that God certainly didn't need to hire us. And while some of us might perceive ourselves as the 12-hour workers, there are probably more of us that are the 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. workers than we'd like to admit. When we compare ourselves to others, we blind ourselves to the joy and the gratitude that we can have because of God's generous grace.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:34] And here's why this is such a big problem, I don't know if you've noticed this, but we're kind of obsessed with comparing ourselves to others. We do it constantly, especially when we're sort of looking for a way to find our own significance and to find our own importance in the world, it's like we don't know how to do that without comparing ourselves to other people. So if you look at yourself and you say, hey, the reason why I think I matter, and the reason why I have value is because I'm smart, it is because of my intelligence, and because of my brainpower, that's what makes me think that I have value. Then probably when you think about it, that about yourself, you think about it in comparison to other people. Like I read more books than they do. My IQ is higher than theirs. I've got better grades than they have. That's how you know you matter. If you find your significance from something having to do with athleticism or health or something like that, then you're comparing yourself to others. You're like my BMI versus their BMI. How many reps can I do? How many reps can they do? What's my time in the mile? What's my weight? All of those sorts of things you're thinking of yourself in comparison to others. This happens with money because some of us think of our value in terms of how much we bring in, and so we think of that in comparison to others.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:55] Think about this, over the past decade, there have been multiple studies that have consistently shown what I'm about to share with you. People have been asked about their attitudes towards income inequality in the United States, which is basically the idea that if you take what the average worker makes, there's a massive difference between what the average worker makes and what top earners make, there's just a massive discrepancy in there. And so one of the questions that they ask people is, which would you rather have, would you rather be making a higher salary but have a massive gap between you and the top earners, or would you rather be making a lower salary and have a small gap between you and the top earners? And a staggering number of people, the majority of those asked, said I'd rather be making less and have a smaller gap. In other words, we would rather be doing worse and have other people do worse also than be doing better, but not measure up by comparison.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:06] We have a sickness, we don't know how to think about ourselves except in comparison to others, and this is a big problem because it also makes us feel threatened by other people. It makes us feel threatened by other people. Suddenly their success does something bad to us, and it can happen in all kinds of different ways, all of us are vulnerable to this. We'd like to believe that we will rejoice in the successes of others, but most of us don't instinctively do that.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:35] In fact, I'll give you a personal example, this happened a while ago, and this is not a story that makes me look good, you'll see that as it unfolds. But when I was in college, I interned with my old youth pastor, and so he mentored me while I interned because I wanted to be a pastor, and he brought me on, and I did different things with them. And then about five years later, I was a youth pastor, and I was being mentored by him during that time. So my youth pastor's name was Chuck, and so I was meeting with Chuck, and Chuck was updating me because he had a new intern named Kevin, who was somebody that I knew and that I'd grown up with. So he was updating me on how things were going with Kevin, and here's what Chuck said. He said, I just had Kevin teach the youth group for the first time last week, and he said, and Kevin, when he taught, it was the best that any intern that I've ever had did their first time teaching the youth group. And then he didn't even need to do this, I don't know why he did this, but then he said, including you. I was like, do you not see me here? Like I'm right in front of you now? Now here's how I should have reacted, at least internally, the way that I should have reacted was to be really, really happy about this. Like there is nothing bad about what's going on here, this is all good news. Kevin's following Jesus, and he's serving and using his gifts, and clearly, he's a very gifted guy. The youth group is benefiting because these students are hearing the message of Jesus. Chuck is benefiting because he's got this great intern. Like everything about this story is good, but internally I did not rejoice. I don't remember exactly what I thought, but it was something like this, what do I have to do to get back on top? Not only that, there is at least some part of myself that was hoping that Kevin's great success in teaching was going to be a one-hit wonder and that the next time he would fall on his face, and I once again would be the standout of this crew. And if you're mortified by me, look in the mirror, because I know that I'm not alone in this.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:50] Man, these are scary thoughts when you see them about yourself, when you start to say, wait a second, am I hoping for the failure of others? When this person that I'm working with did well on a project, am I kind of bummed about it, am I kind of wishing that they would have messed up? When this friend at school got a better grade than I did, am I kind of upset about it? When this teammate came in and started doing really well on the team, am I mad? Have I become the kind of person who's malicious, hoping for the failure of others? And the answer is, yes if you're viewing your value in comparison to other people. Because in that moment, if I had simply been able to look at the ways that God had been good to me, that God had gifted me, that God had guided me, why would I care if somebody was exceeding me? In fact, I should hope that they do. But when we compare ourselves to others, especially when we find our identity in comparing ourselves to others, we blind ourselves to God's grace and generosity.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:55] So I want to make sure to take a minute and do this. How has God been generous to you? If you haven't thought about this today, before I give you some answers, just think about this for a second. We can be so distracted by seeing the successes and the prosperity of others that we don't spend a lot of time thinking about the ways that God has been generous and gracious to us. So if you're a believer in Jesus, I'll tell you some of the ways that God has been generous to you. He has forgiven every one of your sins in Jesus. There is no judgment coming for you, there is nothing hanging over your head, everything you have ever done wrong has been forgiven in Jesus, he paid it all on the cross and it is all taken away. You have been adopted into the family. You have been promised eternal life. Death is not the end for you. You've been given the Holy Spirit to dwell within you, and guide you, and empower you. You've been given spiritual gifts to use for the good of the Kingdom of God. You've been given a promise that every step of faith you take will be rewarded a hundredfold. You have God as your Father, Jesus as your big brother, and the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Are you blessed? Man, God has been so generous to us, and then you know what we do? We look at somebody else and we say, well, why is he being so generous to them? Especially when it has to do with an area where we find our significance, and we're all tempted to look for our significance in other places. So again, if you look for your significance and your intelligence and somebody else is exceeding you, suddenly they're a threat. If you're looking for your identity and your achievements and somebody outachieving you, they're a threat. Some of you find your significance in your family. You're like, we have this solid, intact family. We look good in the photograph. We can post it up and we're this great family. And suddenly you see another family that looks even better in the photograph, another family that their kids seem even better behaved than your kids. And instead of, I'm glad you guys have woken up, and suddenly instead of saying, this is great, you start secretly hoping that you find out about some skeleton in their closet that will make them not as good as they appear to be. Wherever you're tempted to look for your own significance, it's going to cause you to look at somebody else who's experiencing God's favor and to see them as a threat. In other words, it's going to put you in a position where you're upset not because of what you've received, but because of what they've received.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:59] And let's also admit, man, in the US we are in like envy factories all the time. We're in situations that just foster envy. You know, I was talking about Lent and about how for some of us, social media, some form of social media might be what we need to give up. For some of you, I want to encourage you to very seriously consider giving up some form of social media, especially if in your honest moment you recognize this is kind of fostering envy in me. Like I'm looking at the pictures on Instagram and I'm like, why is it my life like that? Why is that not going on for me? Why do they have more followers than I have? Why do they have more likes than I have? Why is that going on for them? Why is that not going on for me?

Dan Franklin: [00:37:42] Maybe for some of you, it's a little bit on the flip side and there's something that you're consuming that's fostering sort of the flip side of this, it's fostering a sense of superiority. You're listening to some podcast or you're watching some YouTube show, and it has something to do with sort of politics or social issues, and you leave your time watching that show or listening to that show, not thinking that you're inferior, but really being convinced that you're superior. Like, I'm so glad I'm not like those other people. I am so glad I'm not like the people on the other side of the aisle. I'm so glad I've got it right when so many are getting it wrong.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:17] When we compare ourselves to others, we blind ourselves to God's grace. And do you know what the greatest antidote to this sort of envy is? It's just spending time rejoicing and reveling in all of God's generosity toward you. When was the last time you took five minutes, and all you did was just give thanks to God for all he's done for you? And what I want to say is, if you do that, you're going to want to keep going more than five minutes. You're going to want to just keep going, you're going to recognize I'm blind to these things that God has done for me, I'm blind to the fact that he not only has done all of this great forgiveness for me, but he's given me a family and a church family, and he's given me health, and the great weather in California. You're going to start going through all of these things, and it's going to make it that much easier to rejoice for others because you're rejoicing in what God has done for you.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:21] And if you even want to take it to the next step and you're like, man, I want to see God do a transforming work in my heart where I genuinely am rejoicing for others, even if they're doing better than I am, then here's my encouragement to you. If you find that there's somebody, and really in your heart, you're kind of rooting for their failure, you're like, I kind of resent the fact that they're doing so well. The next time that that thought comes into your mind, make it your habit to pray for God to pour out his abundant blessings on that person, and become their ally. Pray that God would do tremendous things in them, and that's probably going to bring up in your heart the tremendous things that God has done for you. Let's get freedom from the trap of being blind to God's goodness and grace because we spend time not thinking about what God has done for us, but only about what God has done for them.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:22] As I get ready to pray for us, I want to invite the members of the prayer ministry team to go ahead and come forward. Man, this parable that Jesus told, I believe it struck at the heart of first-century issues that were going on, and it also strikes at the heart of 21st-century issues that are going on. Jesus knows how to speak to the human heart in all of our strivings and all of our darkness. So for some of you, today is going to be as simple as saying, you know what, before I leave, I need to pray with someone about this, I need to pray. The members of the prayer ministry team don't have some special line to God, but man, they are brothers and sisters in Christ who want to join with you in what God is doing in your heart. So I want to encourage you, again, before you head out of here, to take the time to bring your burdens, to bring your cares, to bring your desires to God along with one of these brothers or sisters.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:19] Let me pray for us now. Father, thank you so much that you have shown us your grace and generosity. Father, forgive us for the times that we think of ourselves as those 12-hour workers, and we think of ourselves as entitled. The fact is, in one way or another, we are all brought in at the 11th hour, when we were desperate, when we were lost, when we were godless, and when we were needy, and you have shown us Your grace. And Father, help us to be people who are so taken with your grace and generosity that we genuinely rejoice when others experience it too. Father, rid us of the malice and the envy that keeps us from rejoicing with others. Set us free and set us free to find our identity fully in you. We pray this in the name of our great Savior, Jesus. Amen. Amen. God bless you and thank you so much for being here this Sunday.



Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848