This week, I struggled with envy.
I knew it was wrong. I knew that it was not Christ-like to entertain any of the thoughts in my heart and mind, but there they were. And truth be told, I felt silly that I was having those envious thoughts.
I had signed up for a Lenten devotional and as I checked my email I realized that we were already a week into Lent and I hadn’t even read the first one. (Better late then never! Right?)
I turned to the Scripture reading, Psalm 37, and couldn’t read past the first few verses. I had asked God for help with this feeling of envy and right there, within the very first verse of that Psalm, was talk of that very thing. My eyes actually filled with tears as the verses hit my spirit.
“Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong… “
To be clear, I was not envious of those who do wrong. 🙂 But I felt like I could substitute anything in there… the point was I was not to fret nor be envious. Following that very first verse was the prescription for dealing with my envy. Isn’t God’s Word amazing??
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noon day sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…”
Wasn’t my envy basically collusion with the lying tongue of the enemy in my ear whispering, “God is holding back… God has not given you what He has given others. You don’t have enough.”? This, the very same lying tongue that convinced Adam and Eve of the same thing in the Garden – that God was holding back on them by not allowing them to eat of the one tree in the middle of the Garden.
To slay that green-eyed monster staring me down, I wrote out what the verses told me to do.
- Trust in the Lord…
God, help me to trust you! I trust you that you are good, that you are kind, that you give good gifts to your children. I trust that you have my best at heart. I trust in your timing. I trust that You are enough.
- …dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture…
God, thank you for the land that I dwell in. Thank you for my home, my city, my country. Thank you for the community that dwells here with me. Thank you for this land that is my home. Thank you for putting me here in this place and in this time.
God, thank you for the safe pasture in which I dwell! Thank you that a safe pasture is a place of lush, green grass where I can eat my fill. Thank you for the safe pasture that you provide for your sheep, a place where you, the Good Shepherd lead, guide and protect. Thank you that the enemy of the sheep does not hunt in the safe pasture, for You are the One who protects. God, give me the grace to extend thanks every day for the way that you provide for me, for the way that you give me little gifts of Love all day long – open my eyes to see those gifts and to give thanks to the source of good gifts.
- Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart..
What an amazing promise! What does it look like to delight yourself in the Lord?
God, help me understand what it means to delight myself in You. You are a good God, you are the source of goodness, of love, you are the One who brings good gifts into our lives. Lord, help me to look into your eyes of love each day to find my delight in You. Thank you for the way that you delight us with mercies that are new each morning! God you know the desires of my heart. You know what makes me smile, what I love. I trust that You will give good gifts… You always do!
- Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him…
God, I ask for help in this. So often I know that my focus is not on You, but on me and my ways, my wants…. Would you give me the grace to commit my heart 100% to your way? Each morning, Lord, help me to remember to give you every moment of my day… to consecrate myself again to your purposes, your will, your way. Help me to trust in You.
- Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…
Lord, sometimes it feels hard to still myself. It feels difficult to slow down, to commit that time to be with you, to quiet my racing thoughts in order to hear your thoughts and your heart on matters at hand. Waiting is also hard. And patience…. that’s hard too. God, help me to set aside time to be with you so that you might fill me with your love and realign my heart to yours.
I was also reminded of the verse in Phil.4:12 where Paul writes, “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...” Paul went through many hardships and difficulties. And yet he learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, no matter if he had what he needed or not. Phil.4:8 reminds us that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” while 2 Cor.10:5 tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” I am also reminded by Ann Voskamp that gratitude is the antidote to many ills, envy included.
So the next time I struggle with an appearance of the green-eyed monster, I will remember the ‘God-given prescription’ from Psalm 37:1-7. I will remember to put on an ‘attitude of gratitude’ and begin counting every little blessing and every little gift that God has given. In that way I can stand against the enemy of my soul, in the power of Christ, and slay that monster dead.