A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. (Proverbs 14:30)
Peace is hard to come by, especially in our modern gadget-laden, overstimulated lives. We work hard, run fast, and claw and scrape for more of everything. Much has changed since Solomon’s day, but at least one of the motivations for all our mad scrambling has not… comparing ourselves to others. One of the quickest ways to murder your calm is to try to keep up with the Jones’s. If you embrace the urge to buy the same lawn gnomes or put your kids in the same sports or have the same shoes or get the same promotion as your friends, neighbors, or siblings, then holding on to the peace God promises is going to be next to impossible. If you find yourself investing long mental cycles wishing you had what they have — his wife, her clothes, their house, their kids — then sin crouches at your door waiting to destroy you (Genesis 4:7). God created you to be defined by HIM, not by your neighbor, and certainly not by your ungodly desires or your unrealistic comparisons or the rose-colored fantasies you nurture about someone else’s life.
Where resting in God’s Word and His promises brings health and peace and contentment, envy and jealousy sap them away. Jesus came that we might have life in all its fullness (John 10:10). That begins with redemption and adoption into God’s family, but it doesn’t end there. New life in Christ includes settledness … the experience of God as enough for you, a tranquil heart, and a peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7). Resting this way in God’s provision and enoughness will strengthen your spiritual muscles, and make it pretty hard to burn a ton of calories on lawn gnomes, new shoes or unhealthy fantasies. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). And if you are spending your days obsessing about what someone else has or does and how you can get it too, then you are in real danger. In fact, Solomon would say that your envy is not just hurting you spiritually, but emotionally and physically as well. Ignore it for long, and the very structure that holds you up — the wellbeing and strength that God’s rest provides, even your physical bones — will begin to fail you.
Train yourself to be content with what you have. Understand that God has given you one thing and withheld another on purpose, out of His great love for you. Trust Him; He knows what He’s doing. Create a thankfulness journal. Write a minimum of 3 things a day in it for which you are grateful to God. Review it with Him. When feelings (maybe old familiar ones) of jealousy or envy or ungodly ambition rear their heads, renounce them before the Lord, ask forgiveness, and move on. If you struggle with this, tell a trusted friend, and ask them to pray for you as well. Consider giving something away which you highly value. Maybe even do so once per month until you break the hold stuff has over you. Or how’s this for radical… Make a budget, stick to it, and put the next raise entirely in the bank each paycheck. Or refuse the next promotion. Don’t let desire control you; do whatever it takes to break its grip. Contented rest in Christ will make you strong; promotions and possessions will not.
An amplified proverb (see more in series)