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I’ll begin today’s conversation starter with a look at biblical scripture
I’ll be reading from James 3:14-17 it reads
Life just isn’t what I thought it would be
Have you said this to yourself before?
Have you said it recently?
Many of us survey our lives and think to ourselves- wow this just isn’t where I thought I’d be
Years prior we’d had such high hopes for the future thinking surely in “this stage” in my life I’ll be here….
We envision life’s attainment of romantic relationships as being a key player to fulfilling our inner most desires to love and be loved
And certainly the grass is greener years up the unforeseen road…
We think if I can only get “there” instead of “here” then maybe just maybe life will feel less numb.
But why do we do this?
Why do we use reverse nostalgia as a means of a picture perfect life?
Is it because if we have nothing to look forward to then what’s the point of living?
Thus our lives then become but meager monotonous routines of wake up…eat…work…sleep…wake up eat…work sleep…wake up eat…facebook post…sleep.
For some of us it isn’t the future but the actual past that we compare our current life to and think to ourselves “boy things just aren’t what they used to be”
Why does my life have to be this way??? Why does it feel like I got the short end of the stick with this life and these set of circumstances…
In other words…It’s not fair!
That’s generally our inner cry and/or temper tantrum that we act out internally when we feel pain over our lives and see someone else’s success.
In one word this is called envy….or discontentment
For the most part some of us do a good job of hiding envy, others…well….not so much.
If we are honest, most of our bitterness is directed against God, because we feel God is the One who is ultimately in control of having given more to others than to us.
However, this accusation is often mistakenly rooted in a mis-understanding of God’s resources…which are lavishly boundless and extravagantly plentiful.
You see envy impedes our fruitfulness in Christ and to some degree it obstructs God-desired blessings upon us.
James 3:14-17 gives us a gut check on this reality of envy. It also details how envy and self-seeking work hand in hand.
Envy is generated from a self-seeking heart of personal ambition and because of our sin nature, we are internally motivated by selfish ambitions.
In some… envy festers inside as a quiet comparing of ourselves with others.
What may start off as a small seed, if it is harbored and nursed, will eventually grow into a spirit of murder and robbery for ultimately it wants to kill and then apprehend the coveted possession for itself.
What’s interesting about envy, however, is people don’t see the price you may have paid for whatever it is they are envying.
They only see the dividends.
When they see you being given something they desire and have been working towards, they don’t understand what it is you may have endured or have been sowing in secret, so their first response is envy.
See envy is an issue of the heart and it is not seen until a situation calls it forth.
God’s most common method of revealing our tendencies to envy is to pour out blessings on someone we know.
When your neighbor is “winning,” you can still pray for thim with energy and sincerity. Even when the blessing of God has yet to materialize in your life.
See promotions test our authenticity to love….If you’ve been unemployed for a while and someone that you know that you feel is less deserving of getting a job… gets one before you….will you love and not envy?
When you’ve struggled to find the spouse of your dreams but you see couples publicly displaying affection and loving on each other….will you still bless and not curse?
When we envy what God has sovereignly given another we despise that which has been given to us.
See the truth is that God does not design us similarly and from our point of view equally; but instead designs us on criteria other than what we want. See each persons “frame” or body isn’t built to handle the level of responsibility of managing a specific talent, destiny or purpose.
So forcing yourself to be who you were not designed to be will break you.
Each person’s level of skill has nothing to do with the amount of God’s love for them. Until we come to the realization that God loves us exactly the way we are because God made us precisely the way God wants us to be, then we will always envy.
The sneaky thing about envy is that it never wants to be discovered. Therefore it generates a noble zeal that deflects all eyes onto a secondary issue. Some of us cloak our envy in an appearance of just cause, but as we all know it doesn’t take a super spiritual person to discern whether someone is being envious.
One of the most effective things we can do to deal with envy is simply admit its existence.
We must take ownership of envy before God; dealing with it forcefully and immediately.
Since envy loves to disguise and hide, it can sometimes operate in our hearts for months and even years without us even being aware of it.
Yet God has ways of bringing those hidden areas to the surface, so we can see them.
When trials come in and the fire in our lives set ablaze, the impurities rise to the surface where things like envy can be identified. Once we see the issues, it’s crucial that we repent and do business with God.
One of the main ways God helps us to work through envy is through a weaning process similar to what parents force children through. This involves withholding from the child what they desire which in turn forcibly changes their appetite.
In weaning us, God withholds what we want in order to change our desires.
A weaned child is one who has allowed their parents to shape their appetites.
When our hearts are set upon lofty, ambitious desires that are too profound for us, God withholds from us the very things we desire.
At first we’re frustrated because we’re convinced our high aspirations are part of the God-given purpose to which we are called. Our frustration turns to anger… and then to heartache.
Throughout the entire process… if another person attains what we wanted, envy crouches at our door. If the Lord withholds from us long enough, eventually… just maybe…we will stop craving the thing we once desired. Once our hearts are settled in the portion God has given us we are said to be weaned.
While it may feel as if God is our opponent during this weaning process, there is a nearness that somehow clutches us closer to God’s assuring love. It is in this assurance that we are empowered to overcome the ambition-driven envy of our hearts and come to rest in God’s love.
It is also here for which we find clarity and peace in our lives. As James tells us that where envy and self-seeking exist confusion is there.
But when we rest in the providence of God we find peace and mercy towards ourselves and others.
For godliness with contentment is great gain.
Recommended book: Envy -by David Gibson