Jill Ash, Women’s Bible Study Leader
When I was a kid I desperately wanted a Barbie convertible. I didn’t even know I wanted it until I was playing with a friend who had one. When I left her house that day I took it with me and convinced my mom that she was letting me borrow it. Wow, I was in trouble later when we got a phone call from my friend’s mother.
It’s no surprise that envy of my friend’s toy led me to steal from her. “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16). Whoa. Envy is a serious emotion because it hardly ever stands on its own. It can lead to a multitude of sins. Now that I am older I have learned to fight envy before it leads to something else. It no longer causes me to steal from my friends, but I have learned that envy ALWAYS steals from me.
“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:17-18)
Envy steals my contentment. God has showered me with blessings in this life, and has laid out a future for me better than I can truly know or describe. In moments of envy, though, the one desired object shines brighter than all the abundance God has given me. That object settles into its natural place only when I choose to see it through eyes that desire God’s provision above all else. What God has provided is more than enough and what He withholds is kept for a purpose.
“Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.” (Proverbs 24:1-2)
Envy steals godly wisdom. It lured Cain into killing his brother Abel (Gen 4:5). Envy convinced Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery (Gen 37:11). And envy motivated the chief priests to hand Jesus over to Pontius Pilate for execution (Mark 15:10).
“Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.” (Proverbs 24:19-20)
Envy steals my concern for the fate of the unbeliever. It’s a short leap from being envious of someone to despising them for what they have. To envy a Christian is bad enough because it can cause dissension in the body of believers. To envy an unbeliever is even worse in my opinion because it numbs my concern for their eternal fate. I care more about what they have in this life than what they do not have in the next. At that point, it’s easy to walk away from my responsibility to influence their life for Christ.
Lord, show me if envy is planted anywhere in my life. Give me the strength to fight against it, and the eyes to see the beauty and completeness of your provision.