Who’s yard is nicer, your’s or your neighbors? Who has a better mower, car, house, family, etc? It doesn’t take long, whether you are 2 or 20 years old to find something to be envious of when we start to look around at others. It is mowing season again and just yesterday, along with 2 of my neighbors, I was out riding around in that futile pursuit of trying to keep the entire yard looking the same again. It is only temporary, as it will be calling me out again within the week. It doesn’t take much for us to conform to the demands of our communities, whether motivated to have a nicer yard than our neighbor, or just to avoid the city fine for having a jungle environment. What drives you to be competitive in life to try to one up the guy next to you? Does winning in these little pursuits bring you satisfaction or drive you to be even more competitive?
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30
In an age of pervasive social media, it is easy to put forth an image of ourselves that is contrived and not the full story of what is going on. We can pose for great images of ourselves, our travels, our perfect smiling kids, and even the dinner from last night and have the words to build it up even more. It’s not much different from what we do and say in public compared to what happens behind closed doors. If they saw the reality beyond the image, what would they really think? If we knew the time, effort, and cost involved with those things we tend to be envious of in our neighbor, we may have second thoughts ourselves. Instead of letting our desires for something bigger and better drive us toward more, let us take those desires to God and ask Him to reveal to us the condition of our hearts.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13
One good test of our spiritual maturity is whether or not we can rejoice in our brother’s success. If we can be genuinely glad (not fake happy) when they prosper, it helps keep jealousy and envy at bay. In fact, the antidote for envy in our lives is love. When we genuinely care for others and go out of our way to speak kind words and encourage them in good work, it puts any quiet resentment we may have in check. It may try to return again in other forms, but genuine love is still the cure.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
So, if you are tempted to be jealous or bitter toward a rival at work, in your community, or even in your own family, pray for them. Also, pray that God would give you the awareness when you are headed down that path again and to keep your heart from residing there. May your love for others always overcome any envy in your life!
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:15-16
Yours in Christ,