April 29, 2021 | Envy: Green always turns us Blue
Dear Redeemer friends,
During the pandemic my boys and I started watching a certain dystopian series where there is a disease that takes over over a person’s brain and even though they are still walking around , they are not really “there”. They waste away and their very bones begin to rot. As we watched the first few episodes, these soulless but decaying bodies walking around were so sad and dreadful. By several seasons in, they almost seemed like background “wallpaper” to the show. Even the characters in the show became accustomed to this decay. Is it possible we have become accustomed as well to a different kind of decay?
The proverbs below mentions something else that makes the bones rot. It’s not a futuristic virus, but something that has been around since the beginning of time. Envy. John Piper defines envy as “a mingling of a desire for something with the resentment that another is enjoying it and you are not”. First, we desire something (not a bad thing). Second, we are resentful someone else gets it and we do not( that’s where the poison starts to seep in). This can happen with tangible things…cars, houses, promotions, spouses, and children or intangible things…happiness, a certain beauty, comfort, peace, ease, and rest.
Solomon contrasts envy with something that restores life. He encourages his children to pursue this with zeal. “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord” ( Prov 23:17 ). Turning our heart toward Him, being in awe of the Lord, reorients our longings. We can desire many things but our hope is not in them. We can enjoy many things but someone else having them is not what we fear the most. As we stand in awe of Him, we realize we have all we really need. In fact, we have been given more than we deserve. We are His children and will receive an inheritance to come. We are royalty. We can celebrate others’ successes and goodness because we are secure and our identity is of beloved children of this King.
Where is this hardest for you? Where have we possibly let our desire for something (often something really good) become so big-that when we do not get it and someone else does it eats away at us.
I don’t want rotting bones.
Two helpful ways to combat envy, is to form a practice of laying our longings down to the Lord (even what feels like petty desires) and trusting Him with them. Jesus himself said to his followers, “9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”. We can trust Him. Second, we form a pattern of thanking Him for the ways He is present in our lives, and we also thank Him for how we see Him providing for others. Practice this even with your family. We thank Him for His goodness to all of His children.
This is hard. Even when Jesus was present, his disciples argued over who was His favorite. There was envy- even while the King of the universe was walking on the earth. So it is fair to say that this will be a struggle for us too! Proverbs 23 goes on to record, “18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” As we wrestle, our future and hope is secure. Even our rotting bones do not end like it does in my show. Jesus’ tranquil heart that restores life to the flesh is imparted to us. Where we are weak, He is strong.
Let us rest, and rejoice in He who gives life to our bones this Sunday together.
Jen Sanders, RPC Director of Care and Connection
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.
Let not your heart envy sinners,
but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.
18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.