This past year has been a tough one. Our family has struggled with ongoing health issues and the death of loved ones. Despite the recent struggles, we are very blessed. The life God has blessed my wife and I are more than we deserve. This time of year, we are to remind ourselves of the blessings we should be thankful for; regardless of its size. In a society that can easily get caught up in comparing our blessings with others, we need to be careful to avoid the feeling of envy and discontent with what God has given us.
The Envy of Comparison
Envy is an ugly and destructive attitude to have. We’ve all been duped into falling into this hole of comparing our blessings with what our neighbors have at one time or another. And with the role that social media has in our society, this doesn’t help. We’ve all felt envious of our neighbor. For example, you and your wife have been trying to conceive this past year to no avail. However, your close friend just announced on Facebook his wife is pregnant. Envy sinks in.
You’ve been working hard for your current company for 10 years. You’re highly educated and experienced but haven’t reached management. But your brother whose much younger than yourself was recently promoted to management. Envy sinks in.
I can go on and on ad nauseam with examples.
In each of the above examples, we can see how comparing our blessings with others led to envy rearing its ugly face. Comparing our blessings with others almost ALWAYS leads to envy. Envy is the byproduct of an ungrateful heart for what God has provided.
The Ungrateful Heart
When envy and jealousy capture our thought process, we need to assess why those feelings arose in the first place. Most of the time when we are feeling envious or jealous of our neighbor it’s because our heart is clouded with ungratefulness and bitterness towards the blessings from God. Deep down, we feel we deserve more. The bible warns us to not be envious of our neighbor’s blessings.
In the book of Exodus, the word ‘covet’ is used. Covet is a synonym of envy. When we ‘covet’ something, we are setting our hearts and mind upon something that doesn’t belong to us. In verse 20:17, it states:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Coveting is a deadly sin. This is why it’s part of the 10 Commandments. However, it’s different than the other 9 commandments as it pertains to our heart. It’s a deadly sin because coveting leads to wanting more, and wanting more, and wanting more. It’s a sin that can never be satisfied. Eventually, it will unravel one’s life, creating discontentment and bitterness, and hostility towards others and God.
So, how can we combat this sin of the heart?
Three powerful encouragements to set your heart right
The bible provides 3 powerful encouragements that can combat the sin of ungratefulness. Read and internalized what God is trying to say. There are godly truths and wisdom being conveyed in the below passages.
The Apostle Paul, writing in his epistles explains the importance of being content and always give thanks.
Live in contentment:
I have learned in whatever situation to be content (Philippians 4:11b)
But godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).
Rejoice in thankfulness:
Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)
Above All Else Look to Christ:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” said the Lord (Matthew 6:33)
Our cultural makeup has bred an envious society; wanting what our neighbor has. Our car isn’t fancy enough. We’re not making enough money. Our spouse isn’t good looking enough. On and on. This mindset is destructive and unappeased. It’s like a tire stuck in the mud, it goes nowhere, spinning its wheels in place.
We are only able to get ‘unstuck’ from this mindset is if we first turn to Jesus Christ. He will free us from the deadly grip of envy. I pray, you the reader, find contentment in what God has blessed you with. Never take for granted, no matter how big or small, the blessings endowed from God, and always be thankful no matter what. You are where you need to be for a reason. God has a plan to use you in ways you can’t imagine.
Going deeper: Can you describe a time where you were envious over what your neighbor had? How did it make you feel? How did God show you the way out of being ‘unstuck’ in the mindset of envy?
Christian, Husband, Political junkie, Braves fan, Marvel Nerd, craft beer aficionado, and a sinner saved by grace. He has a passion for helping Christian men grow in their faith. He is the founder and editor of Joshua’s Outpost.