July 29, 2019
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17 (NIV)
It was only a matter of time. I could see her eyes surveying the situation and hear the wheels of calculation grinding in her head. Sure, she’d been relatively content singing “Happy Birthday” and partaking in the spoils of cake and ice cream. But the time had come for opening presents, and she knew those presents weren’t for her.
The presents were for her younger sister, and one present in particular was the very thing she so desperately wanted for her own birthday. It was a baby doll, dressed in jammies, smelling of lavender, complete with all the essential accessories — pacifier, bottle and stuffed animal. What more could a 3-year-old girl ask for?!
I had foreseen this dilemma coming the moment both girls fell in love with the same baby doll. My two girls have birthdays a month apart, but my younger daughter’s birthday comes four weeks before my older daughter’s. And one whole month of waiting for any 3-year-old might as well be an eternity.
So I did my best to prepare my older daughter. I regularly reminded her that her sister’s birthday would come first. I encouraged her to celebrate her sister’s birthday. I even went so far as to assure her that she, too, would get the exact same baby doll on her birthday. And yet, when the time came for my youngest daughter to open her present, my oldest daughter immediately forgot EV-REE-THING I had said. She wanted that doll for herself, and the tears she shed were not of joy … they were of envy!
Nasty, all-consuming, who-would-want to-admit-to-that-kind-of-ugly ENVY!
My heart knew the struggle all too well. When others seemed to have all the newest “things” (bigger house, nicer car, perfect fall booties, etc.), I envied them, and my heart insisted I needed them more: “Don’t I deserve nice things too?”
When others’ friendships seemed so effortless and full of joy, while my own relationships felt forced and stuck in a rut of exhaustion, I envied them, and my heart complained, “Why can’t my relationships look like theirs?”
And when it seemed as though one friend was always overflowing with opportunity and blessings, having spiritual gifts that seemed much more exciting and more important than my own, I envied (hard) and whined (even louder), “But why heeerrrrrrrr?”
In Exodus 20:17, God commands His people, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
He commands it. He doesn’t merely suggest it. And why? Because God knew the thief that envy is.
And just as my daughter’s envy robbed her of the joy in participating with the rest of the party, so too can envy be a thief in our own lives. When we envy our neighbor’s belongings, we’re robbed of the opportunity to delight in and be grateful for the things we do have.
When we envy our neighbor’s relationships, we begin to neglect our own, missing opportunities to love and be loved right where we are. And when we envy someone else’s God-given blessings, not only do we risk doubting and dismissing the gifts given to us, but we are robbed of the opportunity to encourage and cheer on our neighbors’ work!
A grim picture to say the least … if that was the end …
But it’s not the end — because our God is greater than the thief! He’s the safeguard of our hearts. So when envy comes knocking again (because it most definitely will), I can instead turn to God, choosing to trust His provision for all of my needs. He is enough. I can respond with an obedient heart to the places He is calling me to serve. He has placed me with intention. And I can simply rest in His loving presence, knowing He is sovereign over it all.
Dear Lord, with all my heart, I desire to trust Your provision in my life, and Your placement of my life. Please forgive me for the times I’ve allowed envy to play thief and sow doubt where You intended it for good. Fill me with Your presence as I walk through this day, and open my eyes to all the mercies and all the blessings You continue to lavish upon me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 14:30, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (NIV)
Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV)
1 Corinthians 12:18-20, “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (NIV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
In which area(s) of your life do you struggle with envy? In what ways has envy impacted you, your relationships with others and your relationship with God? Share your thoughts in the comments!
© 2019 by Corrie Gerbatz. All rights reserved.
Originally published Monday, 29 July 2019.