Defeating envy when everyone else is prospering

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Jealousy has a cousin, and today we’ll look at how to kill them both.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines envy as; “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” It also defines jealousy as; “a jealous disposition, attitude, or feeling” to which it defines jealous as “hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.” Now, depending on who you ask, these words jealousy and envy are either the same, completely different, or getting there.

The Premise for envy

Regardless of your stance on the semantics, envy is still something that we as Christians face and must get rid off. The premise is this:

God is Good

A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
(Psalms 73:1 ESV)

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
(Mark 10:18 ESV)

God is fair

There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.
(Romans 2:9-11 ESV)

For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
(Colossians 3:25 ESV)

God is loving

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:8 ESV)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4:16 ESV)

The logic behind Envy

So why would a good, loving and fair God give someone else more than me?

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
(Isaiah 64:6 NLT)

If all our “supposed” good works hold no weight, then why is it that others have more than me? Why is it that others have what I want? Why is my best friend getting married after a year and I’ve been single for over a decade? Why did the newbie get that promotion that I should have had? Why is it that God never seems to have any good things left for me?

The root of Envy

It would not be fair to the topic to neglect the root of the matter: pride.

Pride comes in many shapes and forms, all from boasting about one’s accomplishments to refusing to trust God because you “know best.” Pride and Envy are closes related. Pride is the father of many sins and envy is one of them.

Pride is that nagging feeling you get when you don’t receive that promotion. Pride is that nagging feeling you get when no one applauds your efforts. Pride is that nagging feeling when you look at someone and say; “That should’ve been me.”

Pride is the feeling that upholds envy.

Pride is the seed from which envy grows.

The Cure for Envy

I firmly believe that all issues that people have with God can be addressed with proper teaching. And this case is no different.

To cure envy we must be content, and so to start off, I want to bring several pieces of Scripture into the forefront of your mind, a premise for what I’m about to say:

The Premise for Contentment

God is sufficient

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
(Hebrews 13:5 ESV)

You don’t need all you think you do

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
(1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV)

Do not be anxious

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.
(Luke 12:22-23 ESV)

A Promise from God

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

The Conclusion

Life is more than marriage. Life is more than children. Life is more than a nice car. Life is more than a large family. Life is more than a promotion. Life is more than that girl at the counter. Life is more than that house by the beach.

When we neglect the promise of God’s goodness towards us. We call him a liar and effectively say; “God, you made an error in the way you have played out my story, and I would much rather be someone else than who you have made me.”

And in so doing, we miss the great story that God is writing with our lives. We miss our turn and even crash into other worries by trying to do things that God hasn’t asked us to be doing. We miss His goodness in the midst of our lives, and most dangerously, we can even miss Him.