February 8, 2007
The Envy Virus
By Van Walton
Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." (NIV)
When God told Moses to write the 10th commandment, He did so for a reason. He knew that we, His children, would struggle with a debilitating disease that would have symptoms such as chronic dissatisfaction, an addiction to others’ possessions and lifestyles, infection of inferiority, a complaining disorder, and a syndrome of overall ungratefulness.
I believe that focusing too much on my friend’s accomplishments, neighbor’s accumulations, sister’s accolades, or co-workers’ acumen gives root to a practice that will result in a negative outcome. I often remind myself, “comparing my life to others’ leads to dissatisfaction.”
This insidious disease begins with a glance. That’s all right if you can stop it, but beware of the second longing look because it’s the coveting spirit takes its prey captive. Now you think you want what you see. Before long, envy sets in. This leads to jealousy, greed, and resentment. Like a disease, desire for that which you cannot have, consumes. It eats away at mind, heart, and soul and robs its host of peace, comfort, and rest.
I know people who live in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction and discontentment because they don’t have what others have. This virus has infected me and made me miserable. Due to its contagious nature, my children caught it. I vowed to rid my family of the menacing bug, but it was immune to many treatments. Only one seems to work: CAP IT.
Change focus. Choose contentment. If certain circumstances or people remind you of what you don’t have, remove yourself. Don’t expose yourself to temptations that cause resentment. CAP IT!
Ask God to remove your longings for things you cannot have or don’t need. As soon as your heart turns toward the idols of this world and you find yourself searching for ways to become happy, be it a shopping spree, room makeover, piece of jewelry, or a prestigious pre-school, cry out to God. Ask Him to show you where everlasting joy can be found. A worthwhile life is not created by accumulating things. CAP IT!
Practice an attitude of gratitude. God placed each of us where we are for a purpose. It may be temporary or long term. He has a plan to use us in our present circumstances. If God plans to bring us prosperity, prominence, or success, He has the power to change our circumstances! Meanwhile, praise God for what you do have. CAP IT!
Instruct the children. When the disorder affects our children, we need a consistent and ready response. For instance, “We have chosen a different lifestyle.” It’s important not to say things that might make our families seem inferior to others. Avoid comments like, “I am sorry. I wish I could give you more. We don’t have the money.” As Christian parents, teaching our children to live a life of dignity regardless their socio-economic status is important. We don’t need to defend our positions in life if we are setting godly examples.
When children complain, take them to work in a soup kitchen or an assisted living facility. Don’t allow comparisons or complaining to infiltrate family conversations. CAP IT!
Take your thoughts captive. Conquer this disease before it takes hold. As God’s dignified daughters, we are to hold our heads high focusing on Our King and His everlasting promises.. Envious thoughts force our glance downward, turning our countenance into a frown and causing our shoulders to stoop in resignation. CAP IT!
Dear Lord, I confess to living a life that is focused on the world, rather than on You. Nothing this life has to offer compares to Your plan for my life. Lord, help me to live a life of contentment knowing that You have a mansion for me in heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
A Woman’s Secret to a Balanced Life by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes
Shaped With Purpose by Renee Swope
Decide today to repent for your dissatisfaction and lack of gratefulness. Ask God to help change your focus each time you glance longingly at someone else’s life. Recite a portion of 2 Corinthians 10:5: I am “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”
Describe a time you had to have something in order to feel content. Did the gratification last?
Name a person who “has it all.” What fills this person’s life? Would this person be completely comfortable with only Jesus as the source of joy?
Philippians 4:11, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (NASB)
1 Timothy 6:8, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (NIV)
Hebrews 13:5, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’” (NLT)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Thursday, 08 February 2007.