I didn’t really have a cool title for this one but let’s talk about envy. I’m not talking about the evil, villainous versions of envy we saw as kids in Disney movies like the evil Queen in Snow White or Ursula in Little Mermaid. I’m talking about the sneaky, hidden, overlooked envy we experience when even doing something as minuscule as scrolling through Instagram. Don’t worry I’m guilty of it too. My cousin and I even have an inside joke where he compares me to Ariel from the Little Mermaid because in the movie the main character, Ariel, was a mermaid who desperately wanted to be on land walking with humans; and me being born and raised in church I too desperately wanted another life. The grass always seemed greener on the other side. As a kid, I resented my parents for always being so focused on church and God stuff when it seemed like all my friends were just having fun all the time.
Even to this day I struggle with being that girl. That girl that will spend hours scrolling on hundreds of Instagram profiles; pin everything under the sun on Pinterest boards; to watching tons of fairytale-ISH movies wishing she was them. That girl that fills her mind with all the awesome things people are doing. Looking at the cool places they’ve traveled, the beautiful foods they’ve eaten, and the fun-filled lives everyone seems to have.
Envy is the underlining theme in every ad, commercial, and the more modern influencer style marketing tactics companies use to get us to want and buy things. The executives at Puma know that if they pay Rihanna to wear products people will instantly buy it. In this day and age, we are constantly consuming everyone else’s life. We see what @funinthesun ate for lunch and we think: “Ohh that looks so good, I want that for lunch.” We see a photo of one of our peers out on vacation, now all of sudden we hate our lives and really need to getaway. And although we may not see it, that way of thinking spills over into our faith.
Now I’ve seen tons of articles about how social media has made us a more miserable society because we are in a constant need to get what we want. Even ones about how competitive we’ve become because we are constantly gauging if our lives are better than others. But I understand that humans have a distorted value system. We ALWAYS think everyone is luckier, smarter, more attractive, and better than us based on what we see. I’ve been itching to dig in the word and write on this topic for a while now so let’s get to it:
Envy shifts my focus to MY desires before God’s desires
Rom 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
First thing I learned about envy or jealousy in this scripture is:
1. The bible refers to envy as a work of darkness. He’s letting us know that not only is envy something we should cast down since we’ve been enlightened by Christ but also that envy is not even one of those things that’s easy to point out or notice. It’s happening when no ones watching. You can’t even see the build up its collecting because the place it found to hide in your mind is dark. You’re being motivated by something you can’t even see but trust me, it’s there.
2. Envy makes provision (access) for my flesh. As I fill my mind with all of the things I wish I had, all the places I wish I could go, all the people I wish I could meet, I am very in myself. I become very ME- focused. My meditations are not on the things of God my meditations are on MY wants, my desires, my LACK, and eventually my discontentment. I’m no longer satisfied with the life and purpose God has given me. I’m so focused on obtaining things I think I deserve, instead of the things God tells me I deserve. We become blinded by our desires and can’t see or operate beyond them, as scripture says:
2 Peter 1:8-9 (ESV) 8 For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
3. Envy causes me to not walk properly in my faith walk. The scripture refers to it as walking in drunkenness and it couldn’t be truer. We don’t see straight when we see through the lens of our desires. We only see one dimension of a persons life yet we want it. Not to even mention that we also live in a day and age where people can crop, filter, and photoshop versions of themselves and choose what the world sees. We don’t see the full picture but God DOES.
Envy makes me more aware of who I’m NOT less aware of WHO I AM… IN CHRIST
Proverbs 14:30-31 30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. 31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
I was sitting at Starbucks with a friend the other day and a lady walked by with big pretty blonde hair and my friend says,”Oh my goodness her hair is so perfect,” and goes on to say, “I wish my hair was like that.” And God spoke to me in that moment. He told me break down her words back to her and explain that what she just did is something she does with her life. Constantly comparing herself to others which then causes her discontentment with her life in Christ. He wanted me to use this an example of why she’s dissatisfied with her life and how it’s stunting her growth.
When we envy others, we insult God. His intended purpose for us fades away. We’re basically saying, I know you have a plan for me God but I see other plans that look better than yours. We aren’t honoring him in our lives and in our thoughts when were busy honoring everyone else by wishing we were them.
Galatians 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Another side of envy that matters is that as believers we have to be careful we aren’t trying to make others envious of us. Sometimes I catch myself in the middle of posting something and I’ll delete it because I never want anyone to think my life is something it’s not. Constantly bragging about how blessed and highly favored I am isn’t always appropriate. Sometimes it’s okay to be open about your struggles so people won’t feel so alone in their struggle. This helps people understand that this Christian walk is tough. Even when you’re doing everything “right” it’s a fight and it won’t always be pretty.
Don’t have a stomach for the things of this world
Rom 16:18 For such as these are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
Part of the problem with us too is even when we become these new creatures with renewed minds we still have an appetite for the old things we used to eat. We try to use our old operating system to serve God. We can no longer be motived by our desires. Our only #lifegoals, #relationshipgoals, #bodygoals must to be obedient to God.
Our new appetite:
Galatians 5:22-24 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
As believers our appetites must change. The things used to bring us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control MUST change.
I no longer operate in the SEE then WANT cycle I used to operate in. I see my life through the eyes of God and trust me this is a daily, hourly, second-ly, thing. We wake up everyday FULLY aware of all our flaws, regrets, failures, even all of our potential. But we have to remind ourselves that God’s got something to do with our lives. I don’t get down on myself because “I didn’t do much with my life” because I serve a God that wants to do something much more meaningful with it.
Be encouraged guys! If you read this and realize this is something you struggle with you may need to limit the amount of looking you do. Perhaps delete those apps for a few months. Spend more time learning more about what God has for you and less about what you want for you.