Last week (see part 1 here if you missed it) I told you about a girl that I have been envying from afar. This girl has my dream job, she owns a big cattle ranch and she’s young, thin and pretty too (of course ). Really, she just seems to have it all together – she’s living the life I want to have!
I know that other’s lives are rarely as great as they seem from the front porch, but even with that thought in mind, I still struggle when I see other people (especially people who are younger than me!) succeed in areas that I want to succeed in. The little bratty kid in me wants to scream at God -”It’s not fair!” Why can’t I have success too? (I know that I am blessed in many, many ways but those thoughts don’t always keep me from wishing for things to be different or “better” in my life.)
The truth about envy in the Bible though?
- “Resentment kills a fool and envy slays the simple.” ~ Job 5:2
- “A heart at peace gives life to the body but envy rots the bones.” ~ Proverbs 14:30
- “He (Jesus) went on: ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.’” ~ Mark 7:20-23
- “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.” ~ Romans 1:29-31
- “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” ~ James 3:16
Yikes. These are just a few of the many verses in the Bible about envy. Honestly, I usually just chalk my envy up to a normal, natural human emotion (Doesn’t everyone envy? Don’t I have the right?), but the Bible clearly says it is wrong. Jesus even lumps envy into the same sentence as murder. Harsh.
When I think about it though, “innocent” envy leads to other sins. What’s the first thing I started to do after I envied this girl? Yep, criticize and judge. I began to talk about how prideful, self-promoting and big-headed she was. I started to read everything I could about her just so I could find something wrong. Sure, maybe some of the things I criticized her about were true, but maybe not. I know though, that my heart wasn’t in the mode to get to know more about her and learn the steps to her success, it was to find things wrong with her so I could feel better about myself.
If I personally knew this girl I know I would be tempted to gossip about her too.
You know the scene – someone tells you a negative tidbit about a high school rival or someone you’ve envied for ages and for a second or two (or maybe much more?) you can’t help but think with great satisfaction, “Wow, so I guess Mr. or Mrs. Perfect isn’t so perfect after all, huh!” From there, it takes great restraint not to share that little tidbit (often under the guise of ”so we can pray”) with everyone in the county. “Simple” envy sure does lead to other sins.
Today I felt God encouraging me to pray for the girl I’ve been envying. My first thought was, No Way!, I don’t want God to bless her more!
But I know praying for her is the right thing to do. The theme of envy is weaved throughout a thousand parts of my life and it’s a really ugly part of my heart. Praying for someone is not only an act of love toward them (God does command us to love others as ourselves), but it’s also an act of trusting God. It’s believing that he loves you and has a good plan for you life (Jeremiah 29:11) even when it doesn’t seem possible.
Who are you envying ? I encourage you to pray for that person (or people) whenever you think about them today.
I’d love to hear your story or encouragement in the comments!
I have so much more to cover! Join me next Tuesday for Part 3 of this series! I’ll tell you more of my story and talk about envy and a (very familiar topic for me) regret.