Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:13-16
I have been casually shopping for a new or used vehicle over the past several months and I often become fixated on a certain make or model for a while, then I open my eyes up to other possibilities in the same ballpark, some I never even knew existed. It is easy to become envious of any new shiny thing that catches our eye. Anything can become relative and start looking better or worse than what we have if we try hard enough. In doing this, at times I have to give myself a gut-check and say ‘what are you doing, because you don’t really need any of these things you are looking at.’ When we get caught up in any pursuit in life, we often benefit from a voice of reason from someone to keep us from doing something foolish or stupid, that we will later regret. The consequences may not be as significant when grocery shopping, but may have greater ripples when it involves a job, a house, relationships, someone else’s wife, or your children. We never set out to make stupid decisions when we get up in the morning, but it is often a series of poor choices that lead us there, without someone to question what we are doing. Who is that voice of reason in your life?
I’m sure others have said the same thing, but often when driving through the countryside at sunrise or sunset, I comment that ‘everything looks perfect in the right light.’ It could be a rundown farmhouse, rusty old car, or whatever, and it truly does look nice at that moment when the light hits it just right. I’m sure the same can be said for each one of us, with the right photographer. Throughout the day, we also catch glimpses of the lives of others, and often those lives may appear ‘perfect’ or in some way, better than ours, if we just look at that one thing, whether it be someone else’s clothes, car, job, wife, house, etc. Most of us are pretty good at hiding our flaws and trying to keep shameful things out of the public light, but in reality, none of us are perfect. None of us can always measure up to the expectations of our boss or even our family members, much less God, and we can let them down at times. So, when we get the full picture of what others are dealing with, we may not be as envious as when we just see what is on the surface.
So, take a look at your motives for everything you are doing. What is driving you to get up for work, to make that purchase, to serve where you do, or to make time for certain things or people in your life? When we look to what others have and become envious or jealous, we should reconsider why we are desiring that thing. Do we feel we are missing something in our lives? Maybe we should look to the non-tangible qualities in others such as compassion, patience, generosity, integrity, and love and seek after these things more than items that can be bought and sold. Whatever you are desiring today, run it by God and ask Him if there is something else that would serve you better. Give thanks for those things that are good in your life and any envy may stay at bay for a while or forever.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
Yours in Christ,