The movie Amadeus depicts Antonio Salieri as a composer who couldn’t enjoy his gift because he happened to live at the same time as the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Salieri worked diligently to create a decent musical work, only to watch the impish Mozart sit down at the piano and play soaring music, seemingly off the top of his head. Salieri begged God for Mozart’s gift, but he believed that God gave him just enough talent to recognize the many ways he didn’t measure up.
Salieri’s jealousy had turned to envy. Jealousy says, “I want what you have.” Envy says, “If I can’t have what you have, then I don’t want you to have it.” Envy rejoices at others’ failures.
The book of Acts depicts Joseph as a gifted leader in the early church. Loved by all, the other apostles nicknamed him “Barnabas (which means ‘Son of Encouragement’)” (Acts 4:36). He happened to live at the same time as the greatest church leader of all time, the apostle Paul. Rather than feel threatened by this talented leader, Barnabas humbly served by his side.
When the Christians in Jerusalem weren’t sure they could trust the newly converted Saul, Barnabas “brought him to the apostles” and vouched for his story (Acts 9:26-27). When Barnabas was sent to encourage the believers in Antioch, he went and found Saul so they could lead together (Acts 11:22-26). And when Paul refused to take another chance on Mark, Barnabas decided to let Paul go on and lead without him. Barnabas saw potential in Mark and was willing to risk his reputation to lift him up (Acts 15:36-40).
How do we react when we see people who are better at whatever it is we do? May we seize the opportunity to praise God for their abilities and pray for their success.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 2 Samuel 9:1-13
Read 1 Samuel 18:5–19:10 and consider what happens when we give in to envy.
What does envy reveal about our view of God and His provision? How can we seek to be more content in Him?