This is the third blog in this series on love according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.
To be envious means to be discontent with who we are and what we have, and to be jealous of someone else and covet what they have.
The Amplified Bible defines envy as “an evil eye” because it is not of God, it is of the enemy. James 3:14-16 says, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” When we allow envy into our hearts we open the door to the enemy and lead ourselves into deception.
I used to be constantly envious of others. If I saw someone wearing an outfit I liked or having a certain look I wanted, I’d be searching for that outfit and figuring out how to change my appearance. I remember buying eyebrow stencils that were shaped like my favorite movie stars’ brows because I wanted to look like them. I don’t know how I thought having their eyebrow shape would make me all of a sudden look like them. It actually did the opposite. It looked completely ridiculous on me.
I was young and naive and very insecure. I always had to have something that someone else had or had to be better than others to feel good about myself. I was in constant competition with others. I remember my husband and I even having car payments almost double our house payment because we wanted the best. We always had to have the latest and greatest new thing that was out, and when someone would have better, we would want it.
I look back now and see how much work and effort it was to keep up and stay ahead of everyone. How miserable it was for me to constantly live in discontentment. I praise God that He rescued me, changed my heart, and showed me my true identity and value in Christ. God has given me such freedom by teaching me how to be content with myself and not have to compete with others.
God doesn’t want us to be envious of anyone because He has something uniquely special for each and every one of us. We are each gifted and called to a special purpose. If we always want what someone else has, we will miss out on what God has for us.
I’ve found that most of the things I thought I had to have, and was envious of in others, I didn’t even want. Envy completely deceives and blinds us of our true heart’s desires. That’s why the Bible calls it an evil eye, because we don’t see the truth when we harbor envy in our hearts. We are looking through a distorted eye.
I could share with you story after story about how envy distorted the truth in my life. I chased after so many things that I never truly wanted because I was so blinded by envy. One example was when I was younger, before I knew Christ. During this time, I had been trying for many years to pursue a modeling career. People had told me since I was an early teen that I should be a model because of my height. As I got older, the more I heard it from people the more I wanted to pursue it. I did everything I could to pursue this career and spent a lot of time and money trying to make it happen.
Then one day, in my early twenties, I finally succeeded and got into an agency. When it actually came time to do it, and I learned I had to do all kinds of things to keep up my appearance and be ready to leave town when they wanted me to, I suddenly realized that modeling was not something I wanted to do. I had coveted it for so long that I never actually stopped to think about what it entailed.
Envy completely blinds and deceives us. It makes us think we need something that we actually don’t even want. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
Envy literally sucks the life out of us because it makes us never satisfied. I wasn’t satisfied when I finally succeeded and got into a modeling agency. I was actually mad that I wasted all that time and money chasing after something I never really wanted in the first place.
And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4
I remember the freedom I felt when I finally laid down everything I was chasing after and gave my will in exchange for God’s will. When I stopped wanting what others had I became free to be me. It is freedom not to have to prove ourselves to anyone and not to have to try and chase after things that will never end up satisfying us.
By being content with what God has given me, He has been able to bring out His true heart’s desires in me. I could never see those desires before because they were buried under envy, greed, and worldly lusts. I can honestly now look at others who succeed and be truly happy for them because I know I will succeed in whatever God’s will is for me. I don’t need to chase after what someone else has because I have my own purpose.
Last summer, God revealed several promises and plans He had for me. As I was believing Him for these promises, I saw someone else have an amazing breakthrough in the same area I was believing for. Instead of being envious, I sincerely felt happy for this person. As I was telling God how amazing it was that He did this for this person, I instantly heard Him say, “Wait until you see what I do for you!”
I know without a doubt that was God speaking to me because I wasn’t even thinking about my breakthrough. I was just happy for this person and amazed at seeing God work. I honestly don’t think I would’ve been able to hear from God had I been envious of them.
God is speaking His will to us but we won’t hear it if we are envious of others and chasing after things that are not for us. We need to lay down our will in exchange for His perfect will. That is the only way we will be truly satisfied with our lives.
God is speaking this to you today, “Wait until you see what I do for you!”
Let not your heart envy sinners: but be you in the fear of the LORD all the day long. Proverbs 23:17 AKJV
Amanda Beth is a wife and mother of four children, and author of an upcoming book titled: YOU CAN HAVE A HAPPY FAMILY Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children. She has been married for 14 years and has experienced transformation in her life and marriage since she surrendered her heart to Christ ten years ago. http://www.amandabeth.net/