This two-part meditation is adapted from DAILY HOPE, Rick Warren’s excellent daily devotional (September 23-27, 2016). You may read past devotional readings, and sign up to receive DAILY HOPE at:
(…continued) Envy is insidious. It devalues others, it destroys relationships, and it makes you miserable. It’s hidden, but it’s destructive. And it causes you to miss out on much joy.
You’ve wanted to be married, but you’re not married. Or you were married and it fell apart. Now you hate weddings. When you get a wedding invitation, you start resenting. You don’t like weddings, because you think that when someone else’s candle is shining, it will put yours out. You’re wrong.
You’ll enjoy life a whole lot more if you will learn to be happy over the successes of other people. If you’re only happy when things go well for you, you’re going to be miserable most of your life, because things won’t always go well for you or anybody else. But if you learn to be happy at other people’s successes and enjoy other people’s celebrations, you can be happy much more of the time.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love does not envy.” Love celebrates God’s goodness to others.
CONTENTMENT IS A SIGN OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY
Instead of being regretful, we need to be grateful. Instead of complaining, we need to remember that everything is a gift from God.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 4:7-8, “Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need” (MSG).
Envy asks, “Why them? Why does he have better health? Why does she have a job and a husband, and I have neither?”
Gratitude asks, “Why me? Why do I get to drink clean water when so much of the world doesn’t? Why am I not hungry? Why am I not thrown into prison for my faith?”
Envy is based on the myth that you must have more in order to be happier. It’s just not true. Happiness is a choice. If you’re not happy now, you’re not going to be happy with more. I could give many testimonies of people who have a lot more than you, and it doesn’t make them happier. You are as happy as you choose to be.
Ecclesiastes 6:9 says, “It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else” (GNT). This is called contentment. All of us need to learn contentment.
Why? Because by nature you are not a contented person. None of us are. It is not natural to be contented. It is mature to be contented. Babies are discontented. Unless everything is going their way, they’re not satisfied. Maturity is learning to be content when things are not going your way. It’s better to be satisfied with what you have than to always want something more.
Let me clarify: Envy is not desire. Desire is good. Envy is not ambition. Ambition is good. You ought to be ambitious and work for good things in your life. Envy is not a dream. You ought to have a dream in your life. Envy is not setting goals. Dreams, ambitions, goals, and desires are all things that God puts in you.
Envy is resenting other people who have something already and thinking that you can’t be happy until you get it, too. Both of those are lies. Instead, learn to be grateful for who you are and what you have. Everything you have is a gift from God!
ENVY IS A SIGN THAT YOU DON’T TRUST GOD
One of the signs that envy is in your heart and you need to eliminate it is that you constantly use this phrase: “It’s not fair… It’s not fair that he gets to do that and I don’t! It’s not fair that it’s easy for her and not for me. It’s not fair that their kids got the award and mine didn’t. It’s not fair that they can afford that vacation and I can’t.”
Envy is actually a battle with God. You’re in a war with God every time you envy. Because what you’re saying is, “God, you blew it. You didn’t get it right. You didn’t have the brains enough to make me the way I ought to be. Because if you really loved me, you wouldn’t have made me me. You would have made me somebody else.”
And God says, “Huh? If I didn’t make you you, you wouldn’t exist!”
The problem with envy is this: You don’t trust God. You don’t believe that he has your best interest at heart. You don’t believe that he knows more than you do about what’s best for you.
There are things in your life that you don’t have because God knows a reason why you shouldn’t have them. There are some talents God did not give you. There are some opportunities God does not give you. And there are some experiences in life you don’t get.
You can either trust God, or you can shake your fist in anger. But God is smarter than you, and he knows better.
God has given each of us a race to run. You can’t run anybody else’s race, and no one else can run yours… God wants you to run the race that he has for you… The Bible says in Hebrews 12:1, “Let us run with patience the race that God has set before us” (TLB).
O Lord, you have given me so much. I pray for one more thing– that you give me a grateful heart. Amen.