The concealed sin that corrupts

thankfulA few days ago I learned of the miraculous healing of cancer in someone’s life. My reaction shocked me. Instead of rejoicing in the blessing, I felt angry and envious- “Why him?  Why not Bev?” It seems like an innocent question, doesn’t it?  Envy shows up in so many different ways, always destructive! We wonder – Why does he get that position and not me? Why isn’t my marriage as fulfilling as theirs? Why does my child have to struggle so much and theirs seems to dance through life?  God knew the evil that lurks in those feelings and, in His Big 10, includes this instruction: “Do not want anything that belongs to someone else. Don’t want anyone’s house, wife or husband, slaves, oxen, donkeys or anything else.” (Exodus 20:17, CEV)

The wisdom of Proverbs is straightforward – “Envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30, NIV) If we give any room to envy in our thoughts, it will cause turmoil, division, strife, and even murder! None of us enjoys a ‘perfect’ life.  I have known great sorrow and lived through some hard things in recent years, but that is not the whole story.  I also am thankful that the Lord allows me a wonderful life of ministry, the privilege of leading a church of great people who have shown such enduring love. But, envy can make all that disappear. When I entertain it, it clouds my vision!

When we try to grab for another’s place, position, or gifts; we have to let go of what God has put in our hands. Paul corrected the Christians of Corinth. Envy of each other’s spiritual gifts brought fighting and posing into their fellowship. He was not subtle in his rebuke!  “You are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3, NKJV) Carnal (meaning, of the flesh) is antithetical to spiritual! They talked about deep spirituality but their envy was evidence that they were still very much owned by their sinful nature.

Envy is not a harmless feeling. The Bible says that we must get rid of “envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:21, NIV)  Many people would never put envy in the same class of sin as sexual promiscuity but God does. That is why the Word says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:24-26, NIV) There is only one way to deal with envy. It cannot be explained, or justified. It must be crucified, killed dead by taking it to the Cross!

The temptation to envy will return just like other temptations.  Fatigue, disappointment, sorrow make me vulnerable to desiring what looks like the ‘greener pastures’ in which others graze. But, by the grace of God, it will not own me. Christian, if you are envying another, take your feelings and thoughts to Jesus. Confess them openly to Him and let Him break the spell that it holds on your heart. Pray for contentment, willing to accept God’s grace for your situation today. Ask the Lord to center you in His love so that you can honestly learn to say what Paul professed – “I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.” (Philippians 4:12, The Message)

Here’s a word from the Word. Let it challenge, correct, and guide you today. Obedience to God’s wisdom opens our lives to joy and peace.  “So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God. You’ve had a taste of God. Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God.” (1 Peter 2:1-5, The Message)

_________

Good, Good Father

I’ve heard a thousand stories

Of what they think You’re like.

But I’ve heard the tender whisper

Of love in the dead of night.

You tell me that You’re pleased

And that I’m never alone.

 

You’re a Good, Good Father,

It’s who You are,

It’s who You are.

It’s who You are.

And I’m loved by You

It’s who I am,

It’s who I am,

It’s who I am.

 

I’ve seen many searching for answers,

Far and wide.

But I know we’re all searching for answers

Only You provide.

Because You know just what we need

Before we say a word.

 

You’re a Good, Good Father,

It’s who You are,

It’s who You are.

It’s who You are.

And I’m loved by You

It’s who I am,

It’s who I am,

It’s who I am.

 

 

You are perfect in all of Your ways

You are perfect in all of Your ways

You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

 

Anthony Brown | Pat Barrett

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