The next two meditations are adapted from DAILY HOPE, Rick Warren’s daily devotional blog (September 23-27, 2016). You may read past devotional readings, and sign up to receive DAILY HOPE at:
FOUR WAYS ENVY DAMAGES YOUR LIFE
The number one thing that holds you back from God’s purpose and mission for your life is a very subtle sin. It’s not lust or pride or anger. It’s not worry or fear or discouragement. In fact, you would probably never even think of it because it is so insidious we don’t realize its damaging effect on our lives. It’s envy...
You need to understand the four ways envy damages your life so that you can eliminate it from your life.
- Envy denies your uniqueness. Psalm 139:13-15 says, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb …. Your workmanship is marvelous …. You watched me as I was … woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born” (NLT). Envy blinds you to your own giftedness and uniqueness. God didn’t make you to be like somebody else. God made you to be you.
- Envy divides your attention. You cannot follow God’s purpose and focus on other people at the same time. You get a divided allegiance, and then you don’t get anything done in your life. Jesus says in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”
- Envy wastes your time and energy. Ecclesiastes 4:4 says, “I have also learned why people work so hard to succeed: it is because they envy the things their neighbors have. But it is useless. It is like chasing the wind” (GNT).
- Envy leads to every other sin. Envy can destroy everything and everyone around you. The Bible says, “Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16 NIV). At the heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. Envy is a heart problem. Any time you envy you have gotten your worship misguided, because envy is a form of worship. It says, “I desire that. I want that. I love that. I want to live for that.” That’s called worship. And any time that item is not God, it becomes an idol. If you’re going to eliminate envy, you have to ask, “What am I worshiping? Am I worshiping God and his grace in my life? Or am I worshiping what I want from other people?”
COMPARING IS THE ROOT OF ENVY
Comparing is the root of all envy. If you can get rid of comparing in your life, you can get rid of envy in your life.
Here’s the problem: comparing is our favorite indoor sport. We compare everything. We compare our size, our shape, our color, how we talk, our intelligence. We compare our families, our kids, our jobs, our talents, and even our lawns.
God warns about the foolishness of comparing yourself to anybody else: “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves… They are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV).
Every time you compare, you’re going to fall guilty to either pride or envy. You’re always going to either find somebody who’s doing a better job than you, and you get full of envy; or, you’re going to find that you’re doing a better job than somebody, and you get full of pride. Pride or envy is always the result of comparing. And God says it’s foolish. You shouldn’t do it…
The Bible says in Galatians 6:4, “Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work well done and won’t need to compare himself with someone else” (TLB).
When you get to Heaven, God is not going to say, “Why weren’t you more like this person or that person?” He’s going to ask, “Why weren’t you more like you?” You can’t focus on your purpose while you’re focusing on other people.
When you get to Heaven you’re not going to be judged on talent you didn’t have. You’re not going to be judged on opportunities you weren’t given. You are going to be judged on how you lived and what you did with what you were given.
There’s no need to compare yourself with others. God has called you to be the best you can possibly be given the background, experiences, and talent that he gave you.
LOVE CELEBRATES GOD’S GOODNESS TO OTHERS
The Bible tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 ESV). Have you noticed that the second part of that sentence is easy, but the first part can be really tough?
When somebody’s having a tough time, it’s easy to be sympathetic. It’s easy to encourage people when they’re down. But sometimes what we can’t stand is when they get a promotion. We’re not very good at handling the success of other people. Rather than rejoicing in it, we resent it. In fact, we might even wish bad things would happen to other people, because somehow we think that if somebody else’s candle can get blown out, ours will shine brighter.
There’s plenty of God’s grace to go around. If God wants to give other people more than God gives me, so what? I shouldn’t even worry about what he wants to give other people. I should worry about what I’m doing with what I’ve been given. (continued…)
A PRAYER FROM PROVERBS 30:7-9:
Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.