Posted on August 29, 2013
#17: Envy—Four Ways to Beat It (Part 2)
My friend was giving me a grand tour of her newly-built house. I do mean grand. Every room was beautiful from lofty ceiling to gleaming floor. Even the garage was perfect.
Walking through her large living room, I heard the first whisper in my heart: “Wow, look at that gorgeous fireplace. I always wanted a fireplace in the living room.” In about the fifth bedroom, the whisper got a little louder. “How many bedrooms does she need? I mean really….” By the end of the tour, the voice was shouting, “It’s not fair! Two kitchens—both nicer than mine? And a pool? and a hot tub? What did she do to deserve this?” Thinking back on it, I’m ashamed of the unfriendly thoughts I aimed at my beloved friend’s back. The green-eyed monster was crawling all over me.
As we learned yesterday, when someone else’s good news is my bad news, envy is on the move. It can bite anytime, anywhere. Its poison spreads quickly.
We can disguise it as moral indignation (“Nobody needs a car that expensive; it’s just sinful.”). We can feed it, letting it gnaw on our minds. We can give it a feast, nursing our “right” to resentment. But can we overcome it?
Here are four actions that help beat envy and restore godly attitudes.
• Get grateful. Contentment is a worthy pursuit; I want to be able to say, like Paul, “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11b) I’ll focus my attention on what I’ve got rather than what I want. I’ll express my trust that, in His perfect wisdom, God has supplied me with what’s right for me. When envy squeezes my heart, I can immediately begin loosening its grip by listing my blessings—then asking God to make me content with them.
• Get busy. I can find someone in need and help them. There will always be people around me who have more than I do, and there will always be those who have less. On which will I choose to focus? Since envy fixates on what I lack, serving someone who has less than me is a powerful antidote. Instead of feeling deprived, I feel blessed and generous.
• Get prayerful. Prayer for the one I envy is an exercise in selflessness, a practical way to let go of jealousy. Am I able to pray for that person? Can I thank God for his/her successes with genuine joy? It’s an important measure of the state of my heart. Prayer brings me face to face with the One who gave up everything for me (Philippians 2:5-7), and reminds me to let go of my selfish whims.
• Get fortified. I can prepare myself against future attacks of envy when I memorize two or three Bible verses to recall whenever needed. Learn 1 Corinthians 13:4-5: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” Or memorize 1 Peter 2:1: “Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” Other choices might include Exodus 20:17; Romans 13:13-14; Galatians 5:24-26; Titus 3:3-5a; or James 3:16-17.
Is bitter envy feeding on your heart? Stop its destruction. Get grateful, busy, prayerful, and fortified!
“Father, I know that envy is really mistrust, a belief that You’ve withheld from me what I need to be happy. I also know it’s satan’s lie, leading to nothing good. Rescue me from envy’s deadly grasp. Teach me to be content! Beyond that, empower me to celebrate with others the blessings You give them. Thank You for Your mercy that loves me in my weakness and for Your forgiveness that invites me to start over. How I love You!”
© Diane McLoud 2013