Blog, Living in the Abundance of Christ

Small Word, Ferocious Sin.

I love art. I love looking at paintings or drawings and noticing the colors, textures, patterns, and considering the message the artist is trying to portray. I love listening to good music, someone singing, hitting all the right notes, or someone playing an instrument and setting a rhythm that your body can feel. Good music can take you out of where you’re at and to a place you’d rather be. I love good poetry and writing that flows effortlessly and makes you consider things you hadn’t before. I love watching people express themselves through dance, it’s a wonder how some people can move their bodies in such a mesmerizing way. I love listening to someone who can get your attention with their words and hold the attention of an entire audience.

These talents, gifts and abilities are all beautiful.

They all show a small portion of God’s beauty. A portion which he gives to each person. They are gifts for us and to us. Each of us does not get the same gifts, but different gifts at varying levels. Some people receive amazing talents of artistry, singing, dancing, etc., while others receive gifts like helping, teaching, hospitality, and nurturing, etc.  All of these gifts are valuable and equally important to God, when used for his glory.

But what happens when we start comparing gifts. When we decide we don’t like our gift, or want someone else’s gift.

Maybe it’s not just gifts or abilities that you’re comparing and wanting, but things that other people have. Things like relationships, looks, status, money, career, stuff, more, etc. Things that you want, that someone else has.


 

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3

 

 

Envy – you want what someone else has, which leads to discontent and resentment towards the other person.

Covet – yearn to possess or have (something).

In our culture envy and coveting are normalized and expected, and some would even make it seem lighthearted and funny, but don’t be fooled. These are small words for ferocious sin. Sin that eats away at you, and eats away at your friendships, if friendship existed in the first place.  Friendship does not stand up to the appetite of envy. It can’t.

It isn’t wrong to want things you don’t have, and to pray for these things, in fact we need to do this – pray for what we want and need, and give thanks for what we have. What makes envy sinful is the that we don’t find God satisfying, and resentment and discontent are byproducts of this heart issue.

One of the things that starts to happen when you envy what someone else has, is, or does, is that you start looking for their faults. When you figure out their areas of struggle, weakness and sin, it makes you feel better about yourself.  You become ruthless in your judgement of them. Hoping and waiting for them to mess up, or fall down, and when they do you are pleased.  You become discontent with what God has given you and develop resentment toward the other person. No real friendship can withstand this, and it always ends up injuring both people.

In your attempts to diminish other people and their gifts and abilities because of envy, you also diminish who God is to you. You have diminished the gifts he has given others and the gifts he’s given you and you can no longer see the value and the beauty that they hold. They have been eroded by envy. You have believed that God hasn’t given you all that you need, even with your specific gifts and abilities, and what you want is what someone else has.

So what is the answer?

Paul talks about this in the book of Philippians when he says:

“…For 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 all this through him who gives me strength.” James 4:11-13

Contentment. Learning to be content whether you have plenty or you have nothing. When you have nothing you will be keenly aware of what others have and tempted to compare, but  we can learn contentment as we learn to trust God. Our strength to do this will come from him alone. We cannot do it in our own strength. In our own strength we are an envious and covetous people.

Pray. Pray that God will give you contentment with what he has given you. Pray that you may experience the beauty of sharing your gifts with others and the beauty of enjoying other people’s gifts, and in that same way experience a portion of the beauty of God himself, and he is beautiful.

Leave a Reply