Make it a Happy Day

I can point you to a short-cut to misery – start comparing your life to others!  In a matter of moments the sunshine will dim, your clothes will turn into rags, your car will be too old … any blessing you may enjoy will be forgotten. Envy is part of human psychology and reaches across all lines – the rich, the poor, men, women, young, old.  Mostly people envy those near to them, the one with just a little more. 

We think envy is about the advantages that we see in others but the truth is that envy is more about what’s inside of each one of us. It grows out of frustration, low self-esteem, or our own sense of personal lack. Left unchallenged not only does envy destroy our contentment, it will ruin friendships, rob us of sleep, and even bring on depression!

Yes, Christian, because it is more than psychological we need to label as God does; as sinful, and deal with it in His way. Proverbs says that A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30 NIV)  When we learn to be content, to appreciate who we are, where we are, and those with whom we live, we discover a richness of life that is unparalleled, but when we begin to believe that happiness will only be found IF we have what our friends enjoy, a spiritual cancer grows in us.    

The Decalogue includes a prohibition of envy. God said “You shall not covet (envy so much that you want it for yourself) your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17, NIV)

Because envy is both so common among us, we tend to let it be or not to deal with it for the corrosive sin that it is. “Come on, Jerry, who hasn’t wished for something that his brother or friend owns?”  True. And yet, just because we can hide it, just because so many experience it, we cannot dismiss the corrosive and sinful result of living with envy. It is not harmless, nor does it just remain a private matter. James was inspired to tell us that “where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:16, NIV)

It is always a lot more simple to point out a problem than it is to offer a solution, but for envy there is a sure cure! And, when defeated, there is a wonderful result – contented joy. So what can we do?

We choose, by faith, to accept this day, our life, with thankfulness, gratitude that is bolstered by humility.

You may object, “Jerry, you have no idea the hardships of my life.”  I do not, nor do you know mine. I am not suggesting that you paste on a smile and try to feel better about who you are, where you are, or what you have. Instead, turn your attention to God. Thank Him for Who He is. Need words? Borrow a Psalm, reading it prayerfully. (try Psalm 8 or 9!)  Or make note of that person who cares, that bird that sings, the flower that grows, the sun that shines.  Thank God that He loves you and that Christ Jesus is Lord of your life.  The seductive song of envy is no match for the sweet melodies of praise. Try it. Offer little prayers of praise to God throughout the day, not after envious feelings take hold, but before. 

Train yourself to be thankful to others, even for the little thing. Do it with sincerity. Choose to be generous. Generosity with words, with our stuff, with forgiveness and understanding, opens us to God’s resources. 

Contentment, the opposite of envy, is learned. It is part of the life of the Spirit in us. As we cultivate a daily walk with God, humbly living for His approval alone, envy will lose its grasp of our heart as we overflow with thankfulness.

Make Paul’s words your aspiration, praying for the Spirit’s transformative work to be done deep i your mind and heart. Here’s a word from the Word. If you commit it to memory you be able to remember it next time the voice of envy whispers in your ear.  He said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:11-13)

(Video of this blog at this link)

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God Is Good

Third grade
I drew my dreams on a blank page
My own silver screen
Painted sun, never rain
And love without pain

It’s funny
That life I designed never played out
Like I had in mind
Had some highs hit the ground
Some ups that went down
But one thing that I figured out

Joy comes, tears fall
I’m learning there is beauty in it all
It’s not hard to find it, you just have to look
Oh, God is good

I’ve said
Hellos and goodbyes and I’ve held my
Friends while they’ve cried
Tasted bitter and sweet
Those moments between
Oh, He’s had his hand on everything

Joy comes, tears fall
I’m learning there is beauty in it all
It’s not hard to find it, you just have to look
Oh, God is good

We’re all young, then we’re old
Kids have kids of their own
And the days just keep moving, moving
If there’s one thing I know
True wherever I go
He is with me forever, through it all

Joy comes, tears fall
I’m learning there is beauty in it all
Joy comes, tears fall
But I’m learning there is beauty in it all
It’s not hard to find it, you just have to look

Oh, God is good
Oh, God is good

©Francesca Battistelli / Ben Glover / Jeff Thomas Pardo

CCLI License # 810055

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