Have you ever felt that sharp stab of envy? I recently encountered it, and it’s an ugly thing. It gets even worse when you read its definition in Webster’s: malice or resentful awareness of another’s advantage, joined with a desire to possess that same advantage.
Ewww, envy is nothing that I want!
But I am not alone in these occasional feelings. Envy is common among writers. Mary-Frances Makichen humorously blogs about writer’s envy in, Why I Don’t Envy Nora Roberts – Sort Of. http://wordmedley.com/?p=229.
In the 10 Commandments, God warns us not to covet, or envy, in Deuteronomy 5: 21:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Now I don’t really want my neighbor’s ox or donkey, but there are some things that others have that I would like!
Yet coveting or envy opens the door for the enemy to come into our lives (James 3: 16):
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
No thank you! I don’t want confusion and evil reigning in our home! Furthermore, envy keeps me from having a grateful heart for what God has done in my life. It questions His intrinsic goodness to me – implying He has been better to someone else than to me.
I want to experience God’s love, peace, and joy, and all the blessings that He wants to give me for my life. Envy robs me of that, because I am focused on the greener grass (or the published articles and books, or the better marriage they have, or the great relationship they have with their kids, or their blessed finances, or the whatever is envied) instead of on my relationship with Jesus and my loved ones. What, then, is the solution when you or I feel that green-eyed monster called envy?
The antidote to coveting and envy is contentment and praise of God. 1 Timothy 6: 6 says:
Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
Psalm 18:49 says, Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name.
If you’re praising God, your heart will be full of joy, not envy. If you’re content with yourself, it will be impossible to envy others. You will feel happy and fulfilled with the blessings God has given you.
You will know your identity in Christ, and will be satisfied with who you are…and what you’ve accomplished already…and where you are heading with God’s help. You will worship and praise Him for all He’s done. You are walking with God, step by faithful step, toward your dreams and your destiny in Christ.
We are not called to be someone else. I am called to be me. You are called to be you.
Most of all, I want Jesus Christ to be glorified in my life and for God to be pleased with me….His unique blueprint for my life, not someone else’s plan. So what if others appear more successful, as long as I am walking in obedience to the Lord? I need to follow Him, not look around at others. (John 21: 20-25).
God will reward each one of us for our obedience to Him! What has He told you to do? Then do it, and you will know His pleasure. If we trust in Him and commit our ways to Him, He will direct our paths. (Proverbs 3: 5-6). He wants to give us the desires of our hearts, and be good to us.
The Amplified Bible says in Proverbs 14:30, A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.
Look at the benefits of not being envious of others and being content: a calm and undisturbed mind, life, and health. This sounds much better than rottenness of our bones!
One of the best books I’ve ever read on envy is by Bonnie Friedman, called Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distractions, and Other Dilemmas in the Writer’s Life. Her writing is excellent, with powerful imagery. You can read an excerpt of the book in the New York Times’ article here. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/26/books/envy-the-writer-s-disease.html?pagewanted=1..
You can also buy it online at Amazon.com. As Friedman says, it is our own focused writing that will drive away the starved, hidden, insubstantial face of Envy. “What exists is only the writing. And when the writing goes well, its pleasure lasts the whole day,” she says.