All Green With Envy

It happens to the best of us. We look over, we hear something, we notice and can’t believe it. We start to wonder, ask questions and then begin to daydream. Our imagination and our emotions get the best of us. We wonder, “Why not me?” and “I wish I…”. Then without even realizing we are doing it, we are envious. Envy is not a glamorous thing. Nobody desires it or likes seeing it in other people. Yet we do it and do it often. But it happens so quickly and “innocently” that we usually do not even see it in ourselves. We wonder what it would be like if we had that person's car, house, family, job, money or position. Christians have to be careful though, because envy is a silent sin. It doesn’t always show itself publicly. In the book of Proverbs it tells us, “Let not your heart envy sinners…” (Proverbs 23:17a). God’s children should take this warning seriously and guard their hearts against it.
Now you might be thinking “I'm not envious of other people's stuff. I don’t need a fancy house or car.” But that is the mistake we tend to make. Envy does not always equate to “stuff”. You can also be envious of someone's situation. One of the most fertile grounds for envy is during our trials. When our life is going through a horrible time that presses and squeezes you and then you look over; you see someone smile, when you have been depressed. You notice someone living carefree when you have been in pain. You watch someone buy something, when you can barely pay the bills. You hear someone sound confident, when you have been anxious. You hear someone talk about their great weekend, when you spent it crying in your pillow. You see a couple walk hand in hand, when you and your spouse have been fighting. You witness a child hug their parents, when yours hasn’t talked to you in months. A fellow Christian appears to be so close to God, while you keep repeating the same old sin. A coworker gets promoted, while you have been passed over…again. Yes, you can also be envious of a situation, not simply just a material object.
As followers of God, we need to guard our hearts from such a deceptive and silent sin. The rest of the verse in Proverbs says, “...but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.” See the fear of the Lord is the key to overcoming envy. If you fear the Lord, then you revere Him. If you revere Him, then you will honor Him. Honor Him above all other things. Including the things other people have that you don't. Also if you revere the Lord, then you realize and honor who He is. And who He is, is the God over all the universe. He is sovereign over all things. And if you believe He is sovereign, then you believe He is sovereign over your life. Which means you humbly accept the lot in your life that He has given you. You know full well that whether rich or poor, the Lord is the maker of them both (Proverbs 22:1).
Fearing the Lord will also develop a heart of contentment. Revering the Lord and His providence will teach you that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. That He is the giver of all things. You then rely on Him and his providing hand for better or for worse. Rich or poor. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13) In that passage we often miss that Paul was talking about being content when stating that he can do all things through God who gives him strength. Because part of having faith in God is having faith in the life He gives you.
And in fearing Him, we prefer Him over anything anyone else may have. We should be content in all things and all situations because we have Him! When envying other people, we want that as opposed to Him. So look to the Lord and fear Him as opposed to envying the world around us. Because if we fear the Lord, we are looking to the Lord and not looking to other people.

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