"Don't envy sinners, but always continue to fear the LORD."
Proverbs 23:17 (NLT)
When I was a little boy, I remember the envy that resided in my heart for the things that "everyone else got to do." The agonizing cry of desperation would emit from my very soul, weeping and begging with my mom (never my dad, because I KNEW what the answer would be!) to please let me do what they were doing! "Come on, Mom! Can I, please?"
Anyone who has ever parented a child is familiar with the plea. It is a plea to be part of the gang, a plea to be in the club, to be accepted, to get to participate. But it is also a plea that is rooted in sin that produces envy in our spirit. We don't like to look at it this way; we would prefer to simply say it's something that we experience in our youth or in our physical and emotional immaturity. The reality, however, is that it is neither physical or emotional maturity that spawns the spirit of envy. Rather, it is the immaturity of our spiritual life that creates this emotion that often translate into an action.
As children, our envy is typically played out in our words. We express our desires to the authority in our lives, but our lack of resources limits our ability to act on our envy. We express it, we harbor anger and perhaps bitterness, and in many cases, if our envy is not satisfied, we simply reject the person who has been the source of our envy because we don't know how to cope with the emotion.
As adults, our envy can be played out in our words, but many times it is played out in our actions as we attempt to satisfy our envy by filling the void that has been created. If we envy things, we attempt to get those things. If we envy activities or lifestyles, we attempt to model our own activities or lifestyles after what we are seeing.
Unfortunately, this is an endless race with no end in sight. There will always been something or someone to become envious of. God's desire for us is not that we would live in a constant state of envy, wishing that we could have or do this or that. Instead, he says to live in healthy fear of him. Live with the understanding that God is working for you, providing for you, meeting the needs (legitimate needs!) that you have. And, occasionally, he even satisfies our desires. Proverbs 23:18 says that God rewards us when we choose the fear of the Lord over the envy of sinners, and the hope that we have in him will not be disappointed when we do so.
Be encouraged today as you see things or people that may begin to stir the spirit of envy in your heart. Choose to be faithful the the LORD your God, trust in him alone, and he will reward you for doing so. In this we have great hope!