'Great news! I got a promotion . . . and I'm ENGAGED!'
My friend went on and on sharing the romantic story of how her tall, handsome, Catholic man proposed. Everything in her life seemed to be the stuff of her dreams . . . and mine. As she was oozing with excitement, I smiled and was happy for her, but inside I had this strange, silent but sickly feeling of envy. There was this small part of me that wanted her to gain 10 lbs, break out with acne, or just stop talking. (Ok, not my finest moment).
Then as she was telling me how God had spoken to her miraculously through the prophetic gift in Adoration, my heart screamed: 'God never speaks to me like that!' . . . I felt as though an invisible monster had taken over my heart. I should have been happy for my friend, but instead I was consumed with envy.
The Invisible Monster
Everywhere I look there seem to be people that can do things better than me. My roommate can play guitar and sings with a voice that sounds like a blend between Kelly Clarkson and enchanted angels. When I sing, cats squeal from all down the street. My athletic brother can run marathons while eating a Big Mac – That's just wrong!
It seems like I'm surrounded by '-er' people . . . They're pretty-er, funny-er, talented-er, just bett-er.
Unfortunately, when we try to measure ourselves up to others, we can be led into a very serious sin – Coveting our Neighbor.
What the heck does 'coveting' mean? The Hebrew word translated 'covet' is chamad (ÌÄ‰ÛÓÌâ‰ÛÓÌÄ‰ÛÓÌâ_ÌÄ‰ÛÓÌâ‰ÛÏ) which is commonly translated into English as 'covet,' 'lust,' and 'strong desire.'
In Exodus, God makes it clear to the people of Israel that they are not to covet their neighbor's goods, servants, wife, his ox, or donkey (Exodus 20:17). Honestly? In all of my life I have never longed after a donkey. Seriously though, God might have chosen these words had he handed down the law today: 'You shouldn't desire after your friend's x-box, clothing, their status, their cute boyfriend or girlfriend, their looks, their athletic skills, or their things.'
Unlike the other commandments which focus on outward actions, this commandment focuses on the human heart. It is an attitude that can sneak up on us before we even realize that's what we are feeling.
Green with Envy
All of us may have had a moment when someone else has gotten something we really wanted. Maybe your friend always gets the “A” while you struggle to get a “C.” Or their parents are always buying them stuff like an X-box or a new car while your parents always say no, or can't afford those things. Maybe you'd just like the attention that's always lavished on the star jock and his cheerleader girlfriend. There is a part of your heart that wants to scream: 'THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE THAT . . . I WANT IT!' That is coveting. That is envy . . . And we do it all the time.
The big issue with this sin is that it can be destructive to not only our own heart, but it can lead to destruction in relationships, bitterness, resentment, gossip, and ugly, malicious actions between friends and siblings. But at times we feel helpless to our feelings. How do we tame the monster?
How to Obey the Tenth Commandment
God tells us we can turn to him and resist sin. (James 4:7) Over the years, He has taught me a great tool for turning my envy to rejoicing.
Just SLAPP the envy:
- S: Stop and recognize the competition and jealousy in your heart.
- L: Look to Love. Remind yourself that God calls us to love our neighbors and be happy for their blessings. 'Love is not boastful. Love is kind. Love is not jealous' (1 Corinthians 13).
- A: Ask for God to change your heart, remove jealousy, and give you the ability to love.
- P: Praise God for today's blessing. Give thanks for his blessing on your friend.
- P: Praise God for tomorrow's promises still to come! Boldly claim in faith that today you may not have everything you desire, but you trust in His love -that He knows you and loves you and has great plans for you…
It sounds something like this:
(Stop and Recognize your heart) Lord, I am so upset that Sarah has this amazing boyfriend. (Look to Love) I know you want me to be happy for her, but I can't. I am jealous. (Ask for Grace) Please take this jealousy from my heart. Help me to be truly excited for her and celebrate with her. (Praise for today) Thank you for blessing Sarah with your gifts.Thank you for loving her. (Praise God for tomorrow) Lord, I KNOW you love me too, and you have great plans for me. And I wait with expectation for the blessing you have to bring in my life. Lord I trust in YOU!
You may have to say the last sentence over and over. I often do . . . But I promise you, it works and God is faithful! I encourage you today to stop comparing yourself to others and open your heart to the Love of Christ. His love will tame the invisible monster and give you power to rejoice with your friends and receive the blessings He has just for you.