Encouragement 11-15-04


November 15, 2004
Encouragement for Today

A Green-eyed Saint
By Susanne Scheppmann, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key verse:

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)


I wiped the steam from the mirror. Leaning forward on the damp bathroom counter, I checked to see what color my eyes were today. Thankfully, two bright-blue eyes stared back at me.  Relieved, I breathed a prayer of repentance and thanksgiving to God.
Have you heard of the green-eyed monster? Well, I took a slightly different angle on jealousy. I became a green-eyed saint.  My eyes were emerald green with envy - envy of another sister in Christ who I perceived was more "spiritually blessed" than I. As she told of God's immense blessings in her ministry and life, I could taste the bitter bile of envy surge in my thoughts. 

Oddly, the root of my jealousy springs from my desire to please God.  I want him to smile down and see just how wonderfully I work in his kingdom. I long to be a super-saint for God. 
Unfortunately, it seems this malady runs deep within the Christian community.  Do you remember the story in Mark 9 when Jesus' disciples were strolling into Capernaum, arguing about who was the greatest? Mark writes, "When he [Jesus] was in the house, he asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the road?'  But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest."

Now I find it interesting to see he allowed them to argue as they walked along the dusty road.  He could have stopped the arguing before they reached Capernaum.  Why did he wait?   I do not know for sure; but it might have been that when they finished complaining at each other, they all realized how silly and childish they sounded.  I believe the disciples faces flushed red when he asked them, "What were you arguing about?"
I have often felt like those disciples.  Sometimes God lets me whine and fuss until I just plain embarrass myself.  Jesus went on to explain how God views greatness. He said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." His words translate to me that I must humble myself and serve not only the needy; but also, the spiritually blessed that cross the pathways of my life. 

Scripture tells us we are gifted and have a special place in the body of Christ. (See I Corinthians 7:7; I Corinthians 12:12; 27) Each time I become a green-eyed saint, I refuse to acknowledge God's sovereignty in my life. As my envy begins to rot my spiritual bones, I become useless to him.  Thankfully, God reminds me that I have my very own purpose in his kingdom that no one else can ever fulfill. He allows me to recognize and confess my sin of envy. He urges me to humble myself and be thankful for my own individual gifts and talents.

Personally, I want to keep my blue-eyes.  What color are your spiritual eyes today?   
My prayer for today:  

Father, allow me to recognize any envy or jealousy that has crept into my life.  Forgive my sin of coveting others for their spiritual blessings. Help me use my own gifts and talents to benefit your kingdom in my own special way.

Application steps:

Write a note to someone who you admire in God's kingdom.  Encourage her special gifts.  Tell her how you have benefited from her service to Christ.  Then say a prayer of blessing for her.

Reflection points

What special gifts and talents has God given me?

How am I faithful to serve God with the blessings he has given me?

Whom can I bless today?

Do I know someone who needs special encouragement today in her service to Christ?

Power verses

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV) 

Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple. Job 5:2 (NIV)  
You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?  1 Corinthians 3:3 (NIV)

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. James 3:14 (NIV) 

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 1 Peter 2:1 (NIV) 

Additional resources

Coming out of the Dark, by Mary Southerland

A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life,  by Lysa Terkeurst & Sharon Jaynes

Dreams of a Woman,  by Sharon Jaynes

Originally published Monday, 15 November 2004.