Reminder: We fast and pray over Monday lunch for God to change our hearts, for God to bring men to himself and for life-giving marriages for men and women who desire them. This is our second in a three-part series on dealing with envy; Connally wrote last week about confronting the envy monster.
My roommate Jill is a dear friend. In the past year, we’ve watched each other go through good dates, bad dates and breakups. We’ve borrowed each other’s clothing, hosted Bible study, taken road trips, thrown dinner parties, and watched a ridiculous amount of the Cooking Channel.
So when Jill started going on a few dates with our mutual friend Erik, I was very excited for her. Erik is wonderful. Really, honestly wonderful. Their relationship is developing intentionally and Jill has been very thoughtful in not wanting to overdo the gushing. When asked, I said, “Don’t worry – I want to hear about it all!” And that was true. At least when I said it.
But when I was sitting on the couch at 9pm, still in my work clothes, eating fried eggplant for dinner, I suddenly felt differently. “Why should it be her that gets to go on fun dates to cool restaurants while I eat fried eggplant? Why can’t there be someone fabulous and exciting in my life?”
The envy soon morphed into blaming Jill for unrelated issues: “Of course, there is a giant stack of dishes in the sink. Someone is always on dates and doesn’t have time to wash them. Of course we don’t have any pepper. Someone forgot to get it at the store because someone never takes the list. Unlike me. I always take the list and never forget anything.”
Absolutely absurd, I know. I was mentally tearing down and falsely accusing a sister in Christ because I was envious of what I perceived as her greater happiness. The worst part is that it wasn’t really about her or Erik or the dishes: it was about my heart’s discontent, and my lack of faith in a God whose character, especially as seen at the cross, is unchangeable Love.
Perhaps the ease with which envy flows into so many related sins is why Paul lists it as one of the fruits of the flesh in Galatians 5:19: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy…”
In contrast, Christian relationships are to be defined by the sort of love described in I Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Envy is fundamentally incompatible with a loving, grateful heart. We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice, to mourn with those who mourn, and to trust a sovereign God to work all things together for our good and His glory. Even the painful, fried eggplant times.
The happy footnote to the eggplant incident is my conversation with Jill in which I discovered that confessing the envy destroyed its hold on my mind. Jill’s gracious and immediate forgiveness was a tangible demonstration of I Corinthians 13 love, and we ended up having a good laugh about the entire thing.
As we fast and pray this week, let’s take our honest heart situations to God, including envy, and ask Him to settle our hearts in His love and provision for us.