A friend of mine once shared her revelation of how envy was so deeply entwined in our everyday lives. Recently, I have been thinking about this again, and I realise that I have been jealous about many things. At the heart of jealousy is comparison; desiring to be or to have something else. At the heart of contentment, however, is a deep-seated knowledge that Christ is all we need, and that He has already given us everything.
[Proverbs 14:30] says,
“A sound heart is life to the body,
But envy is rottenness to the bones.”
Envy kills from the inside. It cripples us, makes us unable to stand or walk in the purposes God has set for us to fulfill. It is dangerous and it is insidious.
. . .
Counter-attack: What do we envy?
We need to know our enemy in order to mount a good defense and counter-attack, so it makes sense to know what we envy, and what provokes jealousy in our hearts. It seems we are jealous about attention, affection, significance – all the things that really, we should find ourselves content with in Christ. While the practicalities of what this looks like might be different for each individual, these are all things we crave as human beings. We want to feel like we are significant, to leave our mark on the earth, to be remembered. We want affection, to know we are fully love. We want attention and acknowledgement.
We think we want all these things, but where do we find them? Can the earth satisfy our longing for significance with a career? Do we look to people to fulfil our craving for attention or love? Or, do we look to God.
Consider these promises God gives us about how He satisfies our every need:
He is faithful
[Hebrews 13:5] – “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
He loves us
[Jeremiah 31:3] – “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
He knows us
[Psalm 139: 15] – “My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”
He has ordained us for a purpose
[1 Corinthians 7:17] – “But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.”
God is more than enough.
. . .
[James 3:13-14] says,
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.”
Jealousy is also a feeling. Our mind might say no, but our flesh is still sinful and the feeling of jealousy is uncomfortable. It has the potential to provoke us to sin, but James gives some words of wisdom in the above passage. Even if we should have bitter envy and self-seeking in our hearts, we can make a decision to resist the temptation to sin but boasting and lying against the truth. In other words, we can still make a choice to turn towards Christ in obedience to His will, or turn away from Him by acting in sin.
[1 Corinthians 10:13] gives us further encouragement:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
We might feel jealousy, but we do not need to act on it. If the feeling overwhelms us, we can turn to God, and He can help us to overcome its temptation.
. . .
Prayer attacks jealousy in many areas. When we pray to be fully content in God, we pray a shield against the attack of jealously. When we pray and confess our jealousy, we open it up to defeat. When we pray for others to be blessed, we loosen the footholds of jealousy in our hearts. When we pray against jealousy with the word of God, it is a sword that pierces and destroys it.
[Ephesians 6:18] details an important part of the full armor of God:
“… praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Furthermore, [James 5:16] says this:
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
When we empty ourselves out to be filled with God’s love, and pray blessings on others, there is no room for jealousy. It quenched by contentment in God and by love for others. Weakness becomes nothing to be ashamed of because God’s power is made perfect in it and we can trust fully in Him and in His faithful love towards us.
. . .
In [Ephesians 1:3], God tells us that He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Therefore, what reason do we have to be jealous of anyone or anything else. God has already given us everything, and He is our everything, so let us be content in Him.