Are you Envious?
Somebody once said that when you talk to God, it’s called prayer, but that when you hear Him answer back… that’s insanity.
Well, I’ve been a believer in the Most High for over three decades now, and by that standard, I guess that would make me insane. In fact, He spoke to me just yesterday. Does that sound crazy? Maybe. But I believe it would be crazier still to believe in God for as along as I have, and to never have experienced Him in any way. Now, in my book, THAT would be insanity!
Most often, His still small voice speaks to my soul not to reveal grandiose ideas or the next winning loto number – no. Usually it is to show me where I’m not aligned with Him. On most occasions it is to bring me back from my erring or downright sinful path. Which brings me back to yesterday…
I don’t even remember how it happened as I was under the shower. All I know is that I was thinking about a fellow author who had just written his first book. Engagement on his social media posts showed widespread pre-release interest and engagement. This seemed to foretell that he would probably sell more books in two weeks than I had in six months (although the books were on completely different subjects). Yes, I was envious… jealous even. And that’s when it happened. He spoke to me. He said:
“Thou shalt not covet is not just about your neighbors tangible possessions – his house, his car, his wife. It also applies to your neighbor’s intangible possessions: his influence, opportunities, contacts, abilities.”
WHAM! There is nothing like a reproof from the Lord! I was convicted right then and there. He caught me. I admit, I felt less than holy. It’s what I needed. I repented on the spot. This brought me to consider even more times when I had actually been guilty of that sin. The sin of coveting my fellow entrepreneurs’ success. We don’t always see ourselves as we slip down the subtle and slippery slope of envy. When we do slip however, we must repent.
Here are, what I have found, the most subtle ways we can fall for that covetousness trap:
- When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the right connections… unlike someone else (insert mental image here).
- When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the same opportunities as someone else (insert face here).
- When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the same temperament as someone else (whose face do you see here?)
- When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the same resources as (yeah, you know who you’re picturing by now).
One thing that we must come to grips with is this: We don’t have those same opportunities, connections, or gifts because we are two different individuals, on two different life paths, with two different purposes. God doesn’t want to accomplish the same thing with you that He does with others. God wants to sculpt you, use you, and bless you in completely different ways than others.
This all comes down to the illustration given to us in Scriptures by the apostle Paul, in relation to the members of the Church:
“If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (1 Corinthians 12: 15-19)
Now, I realize that this passage speaks in relation to believers, and that sometimes we are envious or jealous of unbelievers. After all, I know many unbelievers who have much more success than I do. This too can be something we struggle with – perhaps even more so. After all, we reason, “Why does God allow those who have no regard for Him to have more apparent success than those who love Him?” That’s a good question. Asaph, the psalmist, actually wrote about it in Psalm 73. He was frustrated and troubled by this very fact. Read the Psalm, and especially his conclusion. Okay, I’ll save you the trouble. Here is his conclusion:
“Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;
You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
That I may declare all Your works.”
– Psalm 73:21-28
Indeed, it is folly to think this way; to be envious and covet, whether in regards to believers or unbelievers. As I mentioned earlier, none of us are on the same path. And the tricky part about a life path is this:
No matter how carefully we plan, prepare, hope, or even pray; only God knows what our next stepping stone will be.
In my business we are often told the following:
- If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
- Your success is found in your daily routine or agenda.
- You have to set goals, etc.
These are all good things. They have been tried, tested, and they are true. However, here is something that overrides all of it:
“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21
Ultimately, His will overrules our own. His purpose surpasses ours by far. His plans are above our own. Does it mean we should not set goals, plan, or apply ourselves to lead our lives. Of course not. But it does mean we should be able to let go of the things we cannot change. It also means we should focus on our own steps, which are ordained by Him, and stop being envious of where others are going.
Just like Jesus answered Peter when he inquired about his fellow apostle John:
“When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” – John 21: 21-22
And that goes for each of us. Jesus could just as easily have told me:
“If I wish for him to have all the success in the world, what is that to you? YOU must follow me.”
Humbly, and no matter what He has in store for you, or for others… YOU must follow Him. Your steps are ordained and your direction is in his mighty hands. If you covet, it is because deep down, you don’t trust Him adequately. This indicates a serious lack of faith, and it is not the way any of us should take.
I will conclude with this admonition from Scripture:
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” (Colossians 3:5-7)
May God bless you as you rely on His abundance and plan for you and put away all covetousness.