This week’s memory verse:
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Love does not envy.
Some translations read: is not jealous. The original language paints a picture of being heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). All steamed up because someone has what you want.
Read Isaiah 64:8
How does this Scripture describe the way God made you?
Read Ephesians 2:10
Some translations tell us we are His workmanship, but the New Living Translation reads: masterpiece.
If you are a masterpiece, what does this say about God as Creator?
God is not a human-making factory. There are no angelic production lines placing the same exact parts on each product. No, God is an artist. He lovingly creates each one of us uniquely. And yet, we often find ourselves trying to be like someone else. When we compare ourselves to others, attempt to be like someone else, envy rises to the surface. It steals our joy, drives us to try to be something He never created us to be. It denies our Creator and destroys relationships.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Uggh! Unfortunately envy is something I’ve struggle with most of my life. But I’ve never really thought of it as the process of comparing myself to others. Merriam-Webster’s defines envy first as: “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same.” This describes exactly what I feel at times.
I suppose it does come down to comparing what I have to what someone else has. For example, as a teenager I remember the painful clench in my heart when my best friend was given a surprise party. Oh, how I wanted someone to care enough about me to give me one. There is comparison revealed right there. Comparing how my family showed me love compared to hers.
There have been many other moments. What I recognize most about envy, what really slapped me in the face, is how it totally keeps me from rejoicing with others in what they have. Talk about a self-centered emotion.
As an adult I’ve spent time envying those with spiritually mature husbands who they share their hearts and souls with. The pursuit of writing has caused envy to bubble to the surface. Reading published pieces by new authors, wondering why they get recognized and I don’t. My latest is with the sister. She has been invited to apply for a training to certify her as a spiritual director. Someone saw her gift of spiritual insight. Yes. I’m green with envy!
But listen. This envy makes me sick. Absolutely nauseated. My spirit has no agreement with this ugly response in my flesh. I recognize the sin as desiring an official stamp of approval from people. A piece of paper to certify me as legit. It’s really pathetic. And God has told me I’m not allowed to pursue such endeavors. He wants to teach me. And He has. He’s led me to other teachers and revealed so much. So how pitiful is it that I demean what He’s doing in me by so desiring the approval of people?! Yuck!
There is this dark dark place in me. I’ve asked God to reveal the root. Yank it out. Heal that place. Because it is so ugly.
Part of what He’s revealed is in Scripture:
And [Jesus] said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:20-23 ESV (emphasis added)
Envy shares some bad company. It is just what’s in us as broken sin-full people. We all have a bent toward some evil in our lives. Once we become Believers, we struggle with the shadow of these evils. We are not controlled by them, but they haunt us.
For years I have kept my struggle with envy hidden. It’s just too ugly to share. But here I am exposing what’s in me, because I’ve learned, if it stays hidden the enemy will nurture and grow it. Only when we bring our darkness into the light can it be healed.
“…I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. …” –Jesus
John 12:44 ESV
How does envy reveal itself in your life?
Who do you compare yourself with? Does it bring you joy?
Are there examples of the destructive nature of envy in Scripture? What comes to mind?
This week’s spiritual discipline:
So much of our envy comes from not seeing ourselves as loved or desiring something we were never meant to have. According to author and teacher Lisa Bevere, Believers need to be grounded in the truth of who our Creator God is and who we are in His eyes. This week’s spiritual discipline comes from her latest book.
Before we go any further, pick up a pen, close your eyes, and ask your Creator to whisper his unique designations over you. Don’t be afraid that you are making up words of love and value. These words are really how he sees you. Be still a moment and know. I challenge you to write down three words or phrases that he whispers over you. When you have finished this exercise, look at the words you heard when you were able to push aside everyone else’s definitions of you and hear what God was whispering over your life. Are you even a little surprised with your list? Has it been awhile since you considered this perspective on yourself?
—Without Rival by Lisa Bevere
Record what you hear and the response to her questions in your journal.
Questions for the Summer Soak journal.
Write this quote in your journal:
Take a deep breath and listen. God loves us uniquely rather than equally.
–Lisa Bevere, Without Rival
If God loves each of us uniquely, then He created each one of us to love Him uniquely.
How has God created you to love Him uniquely, different from anyone else in all creation? Record your thoughts.
Now, consider those who you envy (even just a little). Can you recognize how they love God uniquely with their gifts?
Write a joyful prayer of thanks for God’s unique love for you, the ways you love Him, and how He is loved uniquely by others.
Lord, fill me with joy for Your work in my life and the lives of those around me.