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It has happened to me many times. I am guessing it has happened to you as well. We scroll through Facebook looking for the latest status updates: cute pictures, pithy quotes, or posts from people who actually watch the news …and unexpectedly, the jealousies strike.
The jealousies being those envious, covetous feelings that make us want to click Loathe not Like.
Only a week ago, I was briefly surfing Facebook when I saw a friend post a picture from the beach. Instantly envy washed over me like a wave lapping the shore. The undercurrent of discontentment then pulled me out to sea. My mind was deafeningly loud as I inwardly shouted in the voice of Verruca Salt, “I want to be at the beach! “
Disregard the fact I knew this same FB friend was in desperate need of some relaxation and down time. I wanted what they were enjoying. I coveted the coast line! Confession: I live 15 minutes from the beach. Weather permitting; I must look for an excuse not to make it there once a week. Yet, I was envious of their sand and sun while I was in the yard playing with, or rather refereeing, my three preschoolers who think silence is something reserved for their favorite movie or sleep…only.
In reality, the singular status that I should loathe is my own envy status.
This may come as a shock to you, but envy and jealousy are sins of the flesh; that which is contrary to Christ Jesus.
Let that sink in. When we look at someone else and think:
Not only are we complaining of what we don’t have and showing ungratefulness for what we do, but we are also coveting what someone else possesses.
We envy people who are most like us in thought, interests, and endeavors. For example, it is very unlikely that I will envy someone’s accomplishments in the music, entertainment, or culinary industries. However, move the achievements to the blogosphere, a first book deal, or a shout out on Twitter and chances increase for fleshly envy.
Envy boils down to our ill-focused view of life as one big competition.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21, NLT, emphasis mine)
God’s Word is very convicting. I profess, believe, and aim to follow Christ. However, every day, if I am introspectively honest, I am frequently following the desires of my sinful nature as evidenced by jealousy and envy to name only two variants in character.
Watching my children play in the backyard, I considered my envy towards my friend’s sand and sun. I pondered the magnitude of my sin. I understood my jealousy had very little to do with someone else’s day at the beach and more to do with my ungratefulness for the gifts that God had given me.
As I began to muster a prayer of gratitude, “in Jesus name,” I also had to ask His forgiveness. I prayed that my friend would enjoy their day at the beach and find the solace and relaxation they were seeking. Then, after the kids were down for a nap, I logged back onto Facebook and clicked Like on the status to show my support and give envy a good kick in the pants.
Praise Jesus, when God’s Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin by the power of His Word, He then offers guidance out of sin! Paul instructs us:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. (Galatians 5:24-26, NLT)
In order to be free of the flesh we need to daily nail our passions and desires to the cross of Christ and crucify them there.
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The starting point is prayer and confession – specific confessions of our disgusting sins –especially the ones we really don’t want to let go of because we like them. (1 John 1:9)
Next, we must ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with the fullest measure of Him so that we may follow His leading in every part of our lives. (Ephesians 5:18-21)
Finally, we should, “love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:10, NLT)
Our competitive culture and our self-worshiping flesh tell us at every turn that if we are not the perceived best by ourselves and others whom we value, then we are less than good enough. Rather than honoring, we outdo. Rather than celebrating, we silence the success of others with the trumpeting of our own.
Our problem today as Christians is not what we profess, but what we truly believe. It does us no good to fool everyone but ourselves and God into thinking we are living righteous lives. For then we are no better than the Pharisees of whom Jesus said:
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
In confession of our sin, the reading of God’s Word, and the infiltration of the Holy Spirit in our life, we view the status proclamations of friends and celebrate their victories and pleasures with a heart at peace.
A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones. (Proverbs 14:30, NLT)
Brooke Cooney is a pastor's wife, mother of two, and foster-mom of one. To capture the eternal in the everyday, she blogs about family, faith, and lessons along the journey at ThisTemporaryHome.com.