By Brandy Webb
Last week, I wrote about how we need to stop thinking that the “world revolves around us,” and how this thought causes us to be selfish and discontent. Well, this week, I want to look at another problem that causes discontent, envy/covetousness. You know the old saying, “Trying to keep up with the Joneses”? I honestly don’t know why the name Jones was picked, but it is a saying to describe people who strive to have what those around them have. This desire can cause all heaps of trouble, like extreme debt, depression, and especially discontentment. Why do we fall into the trap of envying each other? Why is it so easy to look at others and wish we had what they have?
The Bible states that “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” are earthly traits, unspiritual and demonic (James 3:14-15). I don’t want to scare anyone by using the term “demonic,” but the truth is, envy is one of Satan’s fruits. Envy leads to covetousness, which is idolatry (Col 3:5). We end up placing our focus on something other than on God. We become absorbed in what we don’t have and consumed in wishing we could obtain it.
I know that with all the advertising, social media, television, magazines, and so on, it is easy to fall into the snare of envying someone else’s life. That is what advertisers want. It is what raises sales in their products, but it isn’t the life God wants us to live. When we are looking at others and wishing our lives were as “blessed” as theirs we are basically spitting in God’s face. We are telling Him that we are not grateful for the life He has chosen for us. We are also breaking God’s law: “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” (Ex 20:17). Plus, we are ignoring the fact that we have no idea what their lives are truly like. You must acknowledge that if you desire what your neighbors have, you’d better be willing to embrace their problems also.
Envy and coveting make for a miserable life; it is rottenness to our bones (Prov 14:30). It eats us from the inside and knocks us down (Prov 27:4). The truth is, even if you are able to obtain your neighbors’ “blessings,” you will not be happy (Eccl 5:10). Nothing can satisfy us fully except God Himself. This is why we must stop looking out the window to see what everyone else has, and start looking around us to see how blessed we truly are. A grateful heart does not have room for envy because it is too full with its own blessings.
We must strive for true contentment, and the only way to do that is to trust in God and to be thankful. To always “rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime” (Eccl 3:12), and to remember:
Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out. But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Tim 6:6-11).