Let’s just pretend for a minute that we all love each other. That nothing like this ever happens. After all, we are a new creation in Jesus, we NEVER have feelings of bitterness towards anyone…that would definitely pretending. I think a lot of us hate to admit just how much this happens from day to day. It could be during a phone call with your sister saying she got that promotion, after you just got home from your minimum-wage fast food job. It could be watching the woman you love kiss some other guy who fulfills society’s ideal image of a “good-looking” man. Whatever the situation, we’ve all dealt with it before, and we all feel horrible when we do.
I know from personal experience that I always felt like God loved me less when I envied someone, probably because because hatred keeps us from feeling God’s love. It’s an evil trap that devours our soul from the inside out. Basically, we self-destruct if we don’t face it head on. We see it on the news all the time, unfortunately when it’s already too late. I heard this story of a tragedy that happened not too long ago, of the mother, brother, and nephew of Jennifer Hudson (actress/singer) being murdered in their own home. It was allegedly committed by a man named William Balfour, who in a fit of jealous rage walked in with a gun and shot the family after assuming a gift was intended for his estranged wife. He then, allegedly proceeded to shoot his son while escaping the scene in his car. His son was 7-years old. These are the kinds of things that happen when we don’t deal with reactions on the inside, working off of assumption and insidious lies of the mind to tell us how to move forward. God tries to save us from this with the commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”(Exodus 20:17) He doesn’t say this because He doesn’t want us to have nice things, it’s because when we want something that belongs to someone else, we miss out on the fact that God is ready to give it to us when we surrender it to Him. It’s proof that we trust Him.
So now that we’ve established that God doesn’t want us to go without, we can just stop being jealous, right? Not exactly. We have to ask God to change your heart, and then we have to habitually changing our way of thinking. If we can’t do this, the root will stay in its place. There’s a story in the word of God that tells of two brothers who served God, their names were Cain and Abel. Whenever good things came their way, they were supposed to give God the best of what they had received with a happy heart. Cain would give God some of the fruit he grew as an offering, and Abel gave the fattest of his animals. Most of us know how the story goes, Cain got “pressed” and made up his mind to attack and kill his brother, which he did. You’re probably thinking to yourself that you would never do something so vicious and treacherous as killing your family. Maybe not. But I wonder what thoughts we really think about people as we look them in the eyes and smile. “I’ve been on blind date after blind date for weeks now and she of all women finds the perfect guy? Really? I’m much prettier than her.” “I was just about to step out and start a small group, but then of course he steals MY idea. It’s a conspiracy.” “Her hair is longer than mine and it’s the perfect shade of ombre. I hate her, she’s always so perfect!” When I think of how easy it is for us to fall short as Christians, I realize that I owe God the biggest apology I can give. After all, He has to hear and put up with all my nasty theories. “Give it a rest!” He’s probably thinking.
When combatting these thoughts in my life, I use a combination of strategies: 1. Thank God for what He’s given you in the moment, even if it’s the smallest of things. Thank Him, not because you want more stuff, but because you’re truly thankful. God will reward your heart, not rhetoric. 2. Pray things into existence. If you want your situation to change, start saying that it HAS changed. If you want well-behaved kids start thanking God for your well-behaved kids. And lastly is this: See the good in people. When you’re focused on the fact that Bill volunteers at the local homeless shelter and gives you tips on how to grow greener grass, you can’t also be focused on his 2017 Ford Escape. This gives you a perspective towards his blessings that you couldn’t see before. “Look at how kind Bill is reaching out to others like that, he definitely deserves that new car. Maybe I can learn something from him.” This way of thinking obviously takes some practice so don’t feel bad if you screw it up at first. Ask God to give you the supernatural strength you need to soften your heart. God honors our efforts.
I will say this, it’s been a long, long, bumpy road for me in dealing with this subject. When I think of all the times I wanted to cry and give up because the pain was so intense, I PRESSED forward. I can’t sit here and tell you guys that this all happened so easy for me. There was and still is a process going on. God just gave me two options: To praise Him even in the midst of my sorrow and confusion, or wallow in it and fail. I chose praise. I chose to rise above it and succeed, because that’s the true tough character inside of me that I’m sometimes afraid to show. I honestly believe that it’s a choice, but just in case you still believe you have it all under control, I’ll leave you with these 2 pictures.