God’s love is ultimate antidote to deadly, destructive envy | Worship
At the root of so much human strife is the deadly sin of envy – it can poison and destroy relationships, and it can even ruin our health.
“A heart of peace gives life to the body,” says the biblical proverb, “but envy rots the bones.”
Envy was the cause of the first crime recorded in the Bible. Envious because his brother Abel had offered a more acceptable sacrifice to God than he, Cain lay in wait in the fields and, when Abel came by, rose up and slew him.
Envy is being unhappy and resentful for what someone else has. The goal of envy is always to strip someone of a particular good. The target for stripping may be smart or rich or beautiful or funny or accomplished. What the envier wants is to remove such advantages and, if necessary, the persons who have them.
Who among us has not felt the pangs of envy?
Promotions are passed out in the office and yet you get overlooked. Your roommate, who is extremely good looking, gets all the dates, while you have to stay home Friday night. Your neighbor comes into a lot of money and buys a BMW while you struggle from paycheck to paycheck. Your friend at school hardly works and gets all As, while you work your tail off and end up with a string of Bs.
We know how it feels. We make comparisons and we end up on the short end of the stick. Our pride is wounded and, in our envy, our bitterness grows. Suddenly, others’ fortunes are our misfortunes: their profit is our loss; their blessing is our curse; their health is our illness; their promotion is our demotion; and their success is our failure.
What a way to live!
Why do we have such a hard time rejoicing in the success of others? Why should we think that their success diminishes us, as though there was only so much success to go around? It was Bette Midler, the entertainer, who said, “The worst part of being a success is to try to find someone who is happy for you.”
What are we to do when we find ourselves turning green with envy?
The ultimate remedy for envy is love – a love that opens us to the experience of another without comparisons, that accepts people as they are and ourselves as we are, and enables us to rejoice with those who rejoice.
“Real love is not envious,” says the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. We are able to love like that when we allow the Spirit of God to love through us.
Beyond the help of God, there are a couple things we can remember as we seek to overcome destructive envy.
First, we can remind ourselves that we do not know everything there is to know about the person we envy. The fact is, if we knew everything, we may very well pity them instead of envy them.
Outwardly, they may be the very picture of success but, inwardly, they may be a mess. Some of those Hollywood actors or music stars we may admire from afar, and even envy, have lives that are full of pain and heartache – just read People magazine.
The other thing we can remember in the attempt to overcome destructive envy is to realize our abundance and give thanks to God. We focus on what we have and not on what we lack, and we’re grateful. We can simply refuse to make comparisons.
Someone has said, “If you think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, it is probably because you are not properly caring for the grass on your own side.”
If each of us would care for and appreciate the possibilities in what we already have, and give thanks for them, we would cease to envy what others have; we would realize our own abundance.
After all, isn't there enough love and blessings to go around for everyone?
Mark Smith is the senior pastor of Mukilteo Presbyterian Church. The church is at 4514 84th Street SW in Mukilteo. For more information, visit www.mpclife.com.