I cannot believe how insidious envy is. As we are in a time of learning about the power of our possessions in our life this is particularly clear to us, to me. We are learning what’s most important and who our money ultimately serves.
As you list out how you spend it is startling to see your priorities. Sad. Even embarrassing at times. Self serving much?
Okay not always. There are admittedly many good things that our money is applied toward — ongoing, frequent requests at church to help those with less, extra scholarship money for public school field trips for the kids that can’t afford, the bonus $5 at the grocery store for whatever cause they are raising money for or the extra bag of food for the shelters. Public Radio. Our church. World Vision child. Compassion International child. There are lots of ways to give in our culture and it feels pretty good.
But still. I envy.
Envy is something innocuous. Invisible. Like a vapor. Of the heart. And the mind. Originating in the soul.
I read an email vacation message yesterday that said: “Someplace warmer.” Envy. I am not there, that someplace warmer.
“Beautiful jacket” I tell my friend. Envy. Mine is from St. Vincent’s is already pilling. And it is not even close to being “this season.”
Vacations. Nicer cars. Newer stuff. Season tickets to whatever.
Envy. Envy. Envy.
It’s a constant pull. And, possibly because we’re older and are beginning to make wiser choices apparently so they tell us, our children “suffer” for our wisdom.
We put 15% of our budget into retirement. We haven’t been on a vacation with our kids for three years (since we stopped using our credit cards frankly.) We limit Christmas presents and birthday presents. We no longer (I no longer) shop for entertainment. We haven’t bought furniture in years, though ours is “trashed” by our cats and kids. I have a nice car (Tom’s belongs to work) and still, I look at the car I wanted, seeing it everywhere, wishing I had the sun roof, leather seats, V6 engine, and a GPS. Yes, two years after I bought my beautiful almost new Honda Accord I still wish I had upgraded it to to have those features. Will I ever be content? That is envy. That is it right there in its ugliness.
The insidious cancer of the discontented my pastor called it.
And yet, reading in 1 Corinthians 13 in the New Testament this morning it says (the Mel paraphrase):
Won’t you just do love, it is what is most important. Those “spiritual” things that you act like are so important — they’re not. Devoid of love, they are nothing.
Even more important than faith and hope, love is what I want you to do. Because to love the people in your life is to be patient and kind in your responses to them. Not irritable. If you are loving you are glad when truth wins, whatever that might be. Love never gives up or loses faith. It is always full of hope, and can endure every circumstance.
Love is not JEALOUS. It doesn’t boast. Don’t worry about what others think of you or about what makes you look good!
It is the opposite of self-glorification. It is humble. Love does not demand its own way rudely. Love does not keep a record (even in your head) of being wronged. Love is not happy at injustice.
Love is your highest goal.
Not all that stuff? No. I haven’t achieved that. Thankfully Jesus also said in 2 Corinthians 12:9
“My grace** is enough. My power perfected when you admit you are weak.”
Thankfully I don’t actually do. He does it in me. And he is perfecting me more every day as I wake up to his priorities. His focus. His purpose for us all.
** If you don’t know what GRACE is, you should look it up. It’s pretty amazing. And it is what Jesus gave us as a gift.