Thinking that life would be better – “If only I …” had a different job, were as smart as she is, lived in the city – is a thought that we all think, sometime, isn’t it? Following closely behind those thoughts are ones that tend to a sin that is subtle but destructive. What is that? Envy!
I enjoy using social media, keeping up with pictures of friends far and wide, knowing what they are doing, how life is treating them. Facebook, Instagram, and the rest can turn into the fertile soil in which discontent grows like a weed. When we see another’s recent pictures about their great vacation, another’s report of promotion, and another’s new-found success we can, and many people do, start to compare our supposedly dull lives to those exciting ones that ‘everyone but me’ seems to be living. Here is what I know for certain: envy is the mold of the soul. It flourishes in the dark, makes a toxic environment, and sickens us.
Cain hated his brother’s righteousness, not because Abel had done a thing to him, but because Abel’s offering was one that was pleasing to the LORD. The first book of the Bible says that “(Eve) gave birth to a second son and named him Abel. When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain was a farmer. At harvesttime Cain brought to the Lord a gift of his farm produce, while Abel brought several choice lambs from the best of his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his offering, but he did not accept Cain and his offering. This made Cain very angry and dejected.” (Genesis 4:2-5, NLT)
The text leads me to conclude that Cain refused instruction, insisting on doing his own thing. When his willful choice was not met with God’s approval, instead of submitting himself to the Lord, he turned, in envy, on his brother. “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.” (Genesis 4:6-8, NLT)
There is a place that we can find in God’s love that removes envy from our heart. It is called contentment. Contentment is borne of gratitude that rests on a solid foundation of faith. When envy starts to make an appearance, we must choose to begin to offer praise. At first it may a “sacrifice of praise,” but as we thank Him for Who He is, for His faithfulness to us, for the assurance that He provides all that we need for this day; we will find our soul resting in Him. Paul says, “I have learned to be content.” Yes, we must train ourselves, by prayer and thankfulness, to receive the provision of God for the day. The sinful nature will cause us to compare and then, largely, to complain.
When we whine about our lack, we cannot sing of our blessings.
Christian, do you what to make a great start today, the first day of the new week?
I encourage you to create a praise list to accompany your prayer list. Write down things, big and small, for which you are grateful. That will change your perspective and free the Spirit to create a new kind of joy. Few things cause more problems among Christians than the ancient sin of envy. It masquerades as self-righteousness, criticism, holier-than-thou attitudes; ugly, divisive things that will destroy our peace with God.
Meditate on this word from the Word. Let God settle your soul in contentment and go bless your world with His love!
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:6-11, NIV)
10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
(Matt Redman leads us to contentment in this song of praise)
Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
Worship Your holy name
Lord I’ll worship Your holy name
Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman © 2011 Atlas Mountain Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
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