“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy . . . ” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4
As promised, this post goes along with yesterdays where I talked about the dark side of social media and measuring influence.
A point I left out of that post: The wisest, most spiritual, and most fruitful Christians that I know (personally) aren’t on Facebook or Twitter. Interesting given the world we live in today, eh?
That said, the subject before us today is envy. Coveting what others have going for them is still alive and well. And we’re all susceptible to it. No one is immune.
Here are three things that I’ve learned over the years that break the back of envy:
- Recognize and accept your own worth before God and embrace the uniqueness of your gifting. Note Paul’s words on this: Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way – the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair? The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ’s body – that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything (1 Corinthians 12:21-27)
- Remember that you have no idea about the sufferings that the person you’re envying faces behind closed doors. You may want to trade your life for theirs on the surface, but if you knew their problems and sufferings, you’d quickly change your mind and thank God for the life that you have.
- Reassess what you’re coveting. I hear a lot of young people say things like, “I wish I could preach like he does.” Or, “I wish I could write like she does.” Or, “I wish I could blog like they do.”
By contrast, I’ve heard few people say things like: “I wish I knew the Lord like he does.” Or, “I want to respond to my enemies with the kind of grace that she does.” Or, “I wish I could consistently return good for evil like they do.” If you want to envy something, don’t envy a person’s gifts, platform, or possessions. Covet the way they know the Lord and the way they exhibit Him in their treatment of others.
Note: Very often the root behind the hostility that Christians have toward one another is spiritual envy. Namely, jealousy over God’s favor in another person’s life.