by Rebecca Barrack
Do you see him? That guy over there with the perfectly pressed suit and award-winning smile to match?
Did you see her? That mom on Facebook with the picture of her meticulously neat house and well-behaved children?
What do they have that you don’t? Why do these snapshots of perceived “perfect,” abundantly blessed people tend to make us feel less-than and cause us to want what they have?
It can creep into our everyday attitudes in the blink of an eye or the flash of a smile.
Dictionary.com defines envy as “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.”
How can we show concern for others or love others if we envy them? If we covet what they have, it shows our own level of discontent with what God has given us.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12 NIV
Allowing the seed of envy to invade our thoughts takes our eyes off our loving Father, our Creator, who knit us each together in the secret place before we ever took a breath.
By taking our focus off of Him and gazing over the fence at our neighbors, we are, in a sense, telling God, “I’m not satisfied with what you’ve given me or where you have me in life. I know better than you, and I deserve ‘that’ (as we point in someone else’s general direction).”
. . .
When I first took a spiritual gifts assessment in college, I discovered my top three gifts at the time were Exhortation, Hospitality, and Mercy.
While I had no clue what this meant for me and God’s purpose for my life, I instantly felt jealous. My friend was blessed with the gift of Evangelism and we were preparing to leave for a mission trip to South Korea.
“But I want her gift, God! Wouldn’t I be more useful on this trip if I was an evangelist?”
Looking back, I see how silly this argument was.
Throughout our trip, it became abundantly clear that God, in His infinite wisdom, used each of our unique gifts and wove them together to serve others for His perfect purpose during those two weeks.
Where one is weak, another is strong. And vice versa. We are all given individual gifts once we become children of God, each with its own purpose contributing to one body – the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).
So how can we learn to throw off the cloak of envy and be content so that we are able to love and serve others?
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6 NKJV
When we realize that God is FOR us and will never forsake (abandon or disown) us, we will have the confidence we need to know whatever we do or don’t have is ultimately for His good purpose.
Just because someone else may get the promotion you were hoping for, was selected to fill the last spot on the team at school, or lives in the white picket-fenced house you’ve been eyeing, doesn’t mean the Lord isn’t working behind the scenes.
We never know what’s just around the corner or even years down the road. Our all-knowing God, however, sees the big picture. He knows the beginning from the end, and what will benefit each of His children.
“Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith?” Matthew 6:26-30 NIV
Rest in God’s goodness and learn to be content. As we continue to study, "What Is Love?" remember that love does not envy.
Let's put down the binoculars.
Rebecca is a wife and working mama of two beautiful girls, living in beautiful Brevard County, Florida. She is the content marketing specialist for Christian Care Ministry, managing the Medi-Share blog.