Don’t Let Envy Spoil Your Joy

Don’t Let Envy Spoil Your Joy

Envy is the recoil of comparing ourselves with others. We see something beautiful in the life of another person and lament because the good belongs to them, not us. Now, when it comes to identifying a good in someone else’s life, we should always ask an initial question: Does the good that I perceive do anything to amplify the glory of Jesus? Often the answer will be ‘no’. In many cases, envy is built on a covetous desire for something that has little or no spiritual value – or perhaps even negative value. 

We aim at God’s glory when we are content to be outshined by others in gifts and esteem (Thomas Watson).

Envy is a weed that readily grows in my heart. If I go on social media, my first look is a casual scroll through pictures and memes shared by friends. But if my eyes alight for more than a second or two, it is usually because I’ve spotted some point of comparison. Like a tilted bottle of water, I feel my emotion shift from a settled disposition of contentment to a sullen mood of disappointment. A sadness ebbs into my heart. It’s a sadness so ugly and shameful that I’m embarrassed to admit the truth in public. Deep down I feel a self-pity that someone else has experienced a dollop of blessing instead of me. Rather than rejoicing in the happiness of a friend, the beauty of her life triggers a bitter taste of disappointment.

My guess is that I’m not alone in needing to combat the sinful passion of envy. Many others will be familiar with the resentful sensation that a neighbour’s slice of cake is bigger and better than ‘mine’.  The question I want to raise is this: What should we do when envy spring up like a thorn in the heart? What steps can we follow to keep unequal scales from spoiling our contentment and joy?

The place to begin is to drill down into the core of the Christian heart. Deep down, regardless of how we feel in a passing moment, the bedrock of the heart of a Christian is a passion for the glory of Christ. We long for Jesus to be made preeminent in everything. On the one hand, the more he is exalted, the less room there is for sin, for suffering, and for death. On the other, anything that detracts or distracts from the glory of Christ is an obstacle to human happiness which needs to be demolished and removed. We need to keep this subterranean love in mind as we grapple with our more superficial passions.

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