Have you experienced envy recently?
That feeling of envy is not an instinctual response. You don’t see what someone else has and automatically respond with the emotion of envy. Instead, that feeling of envy is the result of an interpretation.
Maybe I should phrase it more strongly: that feeling of envy is the result of a distorted interpretation.
Envy looks at life through a rippled window, twisting whatever it sees. Envy separates us from reality, expanding certain facts, neglecting others, and reshaping even more. All the while, it presents itself as a valid, accurate, and reliable worldview.
There are five distorted interpretations of envy that make it so dangerous:
1. Envy makes it all about us.
Envy always puts us at the center. In this system, the world is evaluated solely by what we have or don’t have. The good life becomes the life that we say is good for us, and the bad life is bad because we say we’re not getting what we want.
2. Envy is idolatrous.
Envy always exchanges the creation for the Creator (Romans 1:25) and measures life by physical experiences, relationships, and possessions. Envy looks to worldly treasure for satisfaction and peace. Envy asks the earth for meaning and purpose. Envy tries to seek from creation what only the Creator can provide.
3. Envy is self-righteous.
The fundamental perspective of envy says, “I deserve better!” The fact that envy begins with “I deserve” is the dead giveaway of its distortion and danger. It ignores the reality that each of us is a rebel and a fool, deserving God’s rejection and wrath. Envy neglects to celebrate that every day is a gift of gorgeous mercy.
4. Envy is short-sighted.
Envy is very skilled at ignoring eternity. With its truncated view of reality, envy acts as if all we have is the here and now. In this way, envy misses the whole point of the here and now. This present moment was not designed to be a destination, but a preparation for a final destination.
5. Envy is the soil of other sins.
Envy never ends with envy; it produces many other sins of the heart, hands, and mouth. Because envy is obsessively focused on making us the god in life (breaking the first commandment), it opens the floodgates to violate all the other commands that God has set.
Wow – is that a discouraging devotional or what? Don’t be disheartened! There’s Good News for our envious distortion. The Creator, in his grace, invaded our envy madness in the person of Jesus Christ. Our Savior didn’t live envious of others, but instead gave up everything that we might envy to experience a life of pain, sacrifice, and rejection.
On the Cross, he was punished for our envy, he purchased forgiveness for our envy, and he gave us his envy-free righteousness. We are accepted into God's family forever and will experience everlasting contentment.
Today, grace promises you a new heart. With your new heart, you can grow in thankfulness and appreciation. You can learn to run from old idols. You can find joy in loving others as you have been loved. You can experience how it is more blessed to give than to receive.
With your new heart, you can be satisfied in Christ.
1. What have you been envious of recently? Find something specific, or a recent pattern of jealous emotions.
2. How is your envy a result of interpretation? In other words, what have you been saying to yourself about you, about God, and about this world that allows envy to take root in your heart?
3. Review your interpretation. Where does it need to be corrected? How can Scripture help repair it?
4. How has this envy led to other sins? Besides envy, what do you need to confess?
5. How have you matured from previous feelings of envy and grown to be satisfied in Christ? What can you learn from that spiritual growth and how can you apply it to your envy struggles of today?