A Face-off with the Green-eyed Monster

“We all stumble in many ways” James tells us (James 3:2). Everyone, regardless of personality or privilege, will struggle with their flesh. The concern comes when we stumble but don’t struggle. In other words, am I giving in to my sinful inclinations–today, envy–or am I fighting against it? Do I excuse it (or even nurture it) or do I push it aside and listen to the Holy Spirit’s conviction?

When the green-eyed monsters pulls on my hair and hangs on my arm, my spirit descends into this pit of pride. For at the root of jealousy is an attitude that demands, “I deserve that too!” I see a photo of a friend traveling Europe and long for a day when that might be possible, I visit a person’s house and wish I could have the space they do, or I see a fellow writer friend ascend to higher status with her work, building a platform that seems completely out of reach for me. Resentment, frustration, and even contempt can settle in my heart if I don’t guard my thoughts and emotions.

First off, we should verify that envy is a sin. Before we glamorize and justify it by saying things like, “Oh, a little jealousy motivates a person to strive for better…” we need to understand what God says about it. He hates it, and we, therefore, should as well. (Titus 3:3, I Peter 2:1, I Cor. 13:4, I Cor. 3:3)

When we endeavor to keep up with the family next door, we chase after the wind–an entity that eludes our best efforts. 

“And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecc. 4:4

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30

When I’m content, I understand that even if my situation is less than ideal and even if I long for unrealized dreams, God is in control. He is my sustainer, provider, and source of life. Even if He chooses to withhold one more blessing from me, He will still be worthy of eternal praise and gratitude.

When I’m feeling jealousy rot my bones, I know that contentment in Him will medicate my sick spirit.

Here are three ways you can renew your spirit with some perspective:

  • Write down how life is different now than it was from 10 or 20 years ago. Some thing may be harder, sure, but count the ways God has directed your path and graced you with good things.
  • Read an article on Compassion International’s website or subscribe to The Voice of the Martyrs’ newsletter.   Know that your life here in America contrasts to the vast majority of the world.
  • Send a note or text to a friend whose lifestyle seems to provoke your spirit. Congratulate them on an achievement, prayer for their trip to be a safe blessing, or wish them well with their job.

Recognize the beauty around you and choose your focal point. Will you focus on what that green-eyed monster is pointing at, “See that? Don’t you want that? Are you upset?” or will you turn your head to the side and see the blessings surrounding you?

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