You can gaze over the fence and covet another person’s life or tell yourself that God has blessed you in ways you never could have earned.
Do you ever battle with envy? Have you ever wondered why someone else’s life seems easier than yours? Have you ever struggled to celebrate the blessings of someone else who had what you thought you needed? Have you ever wished you could just switch lives with someone? Perhaps there are ways in which envy haunts us all, so it’s worth examining the heart of envy.
What things prepare the heart for envy?
- Envy is forgetful. In concentrating on what we don’t have that we think we should have, we fail to keep in mind the huge catalog of blessings that are ours simply because God has chosen to place his bountiful love on us. This forgetfulness causes us to do more comparing and complaining than praising and resting.
- Envy misunderstands blessing. So often envy is fueled by misunderstanding what God’s care looks like. It is not always the care of provision, relief, or release. Sometimes God’s blessing comes in the form of trials that are his means of giving us things we could get no other way.
- Envy is selfish. Envy tends to put us in the center of our own worlds. It tends to make everything about our comfort and ease, our wants, needs, and feelings, and not about the plan and the glory of the God we serve.
- Envy is self-righteous. Envy has an “I deserve _____ more than they do” posture to it. It forgets that we all deserve immediate and eternal punishment, and that any good thing we have is an undeserved gift of God’s amazing grace.
- Envy is shortsighted. Envy has a right here, right now aspect to it that overlooks the fact that this moment is not all there is. Envy cannot see that this moment isn’t meant to be a destination, but a preparation for a final destination that will be beautiful beyond our wildest imagination.
- Envy questions God’s wisdom. When you and I envy, we tend to buy into the thought that we are smarter than God. In envy, we tend to think we know more and better, and if our hands were on the joystick, we would be handling things a different way.
- Envy is impatient. Envy doesn’t like to wait. Envy complains quickly and tires easily. Envy doesn’t just cry for blessings; it cries for blessings now.
What is devastating about envy is that it questions God’s goodness, and when you do that, you quit running to him for help. So cry out for rescue—that God would give you a thankful, humble, and patient heart. His transforming grace is your only defense against envy.
For further study and encouragement: Psalm 34
Taken from New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul Tripp, © 2014, pp. 132-162. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.
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Paul David Tripp is a pastor, author and conference speaker. He is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.