Have you ever heard the saying “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”?
I’m sure you have. And I bet you know what it means. Just in case, this is one definition I found online: “
Do you think this applies to Christians? Does it sound like something you’ve said or thought?
Unfortunately, many Christians live with this thought every day. But something worst than the thought is the feeling it brings: envy.
Envy often comes with great pain, it makes us think that everyone else has had better opportunities than us and it even makes us feel that we are not good enough. It also makes us believe that we could be better if we were experiencing different situations than the ones are having. It makes us compare ourselves to others and we even drift and daydream until we are not present.
If we let it, envy can be one of those feelings that triggers depression, frustration, and bitterness. And it ultimately leads us to meaningless lives.
Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:4)
I’m pretty sure you don’t want to have a meaningless life, do you? So we must learn how to remove envy from our lives to live the purpose for which God created us. We must live well with the life we have to find satisfaction, meaning, and happiness.
We’ll see some tips to helps us do this later but first, I’ll write a bit more about what envy is and how this burdening feeling really affects our lives. Because the first step to take something out of our lives is accepting that something is not going well so we must know what it is to recognize it in ourselves. (I’ll also “talk” about a few things caused by envy.)
One thing (the most common one) that triggers envy is natural competitiveness. As a teacher, I’ve been able to see that children always want to receive the same or even more praise that the kid next to them. And I’ve seen adults do the same… I know I did the same. This makes us want to show that we can be better or that we are someone we are not, someone we think is better than us (it’s basically living a lie).
James 3:14-16 tells us how harmful envy is to us: “But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” Wow! Harsh words. Before ever reading this I had no idea these were the consequences of feeling envy. And as I think about it and take a look back at some periods in my life, it is absolutely true (just as everything else in the Bible ;)).
Envy paralyzes us because it doesn’t let us get out of the mud we’re trapped in, to walk towards God’s purpose for us.
Besides, as we read in the verse above it opens the doors for terrible things… among them: pride and greed. It makes us want to show more (add social media to that) and have more. There’s a saying in my country that became popular from a TV ad in the 90’s and it says something like: “Envy, it’s better to cause it than to feel it”.
As I mentioned before, one of the biggest problems with envy is that it can sabotage God’s plan for us!
Why? For starters, envy is the last of the ten commandments given by God to the Covenant community (Exodus 20:17):
“You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”
We don’t want to ignore his commands, right?… When we start envying what others have, we don’t trust in what God has for us. God prospers his people in different ways. So we shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone else!
He blesses each one of us differently and individually. His blessings, everything he gives and does for us is not relative to what others have, get or receive.
I can’t say this enough: don’t compare yourself to others, don’t enter the world’s “rats race”!
I’ve heard there’s something called “The inverted U-Curve” and it applies to many things including money and wealth:
In this case: the more money you have, the lonelier you are; the more you get, the less moral you have… you get the idea.
As Christians, we must acknowledge that there’s a certain limit to some things and this includes money and things. Besides, we must keep in mind that we are given to give to others, we are blessed to bless others.
So now, I’ll get into having a good life where we find satisfaction, meaning, and happiness. As always, the first thing we need and must do is PRAY.
- We should pray asking the Lord what is the measure of _______ that He has for us. Ask him something like: what is the ideal level of _______ for me now?
- Acknowledge and manage the talents and gifts that the Lord gave you to reach that ideal level. Just like in the parable of the three servants. (Matthew 25: 14-30) Be faithful with what has been given to you.
- “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33. Strive to build the Kingdom around what is given instead of working for that. This way, you are honoring God first and He will notice that. Soon you’ll be blessed due to your faithfulness.
- Always keep in mind that it’s about our relationship with God; it’s not about others or their relationship with the Lord.
- Confess any sin and any feeling you may have that might open a door to the enemy. Instead of welcoming bitterness, depression, and frustration, you will open the doors to God’s grace which comes with true contentment, cheerfulness, and fulfillment.
Finally, when we focus on what God has promised us, we’ll be more focused on working for it and we won’t be bothered by others’ possessions or blessings. We know that God is working on us and that “He who began the good work within us, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)
I hope this post has helped you be more aware of the consequences of envy and how to work to overcome it.
If you think this might be helpful to someone you know, don’t hesitate and share it with them.
Also, please comment below and let us know your thoughts about this topic. Yo can also share your thoughts in our private Facebook group. What has helped you focus more on your blessings instead of others’? What piece of advice would you give others?
Be gracious and don’t forget God’s love never fails.