Have you ever wanted to be like someone else? Have you ever wanted to be like that person so badly that you found yourself salivating at the thought of having their skill or popularity? Maybe you’ve said something like, “If I could just sing like her … .” or “If I could only kick the ball like him … .”
Maybe the person was a good friend at school or college, and she got all the good acting parts while you were put in charge of props. Maybe he’s currently a professional colleague who seems to get all the recognition for a job well done, but you’re the one who’s put in all the hours.
Or perhaps it’s the person at church who has become everyone’s spiritual darling, and it’s ripping you apart, because she’s your best friend. Envy, jealousy, hurt and anger have set in, and you’re becoming more and more agitated and less and less content with the state of your own life. It’s a downward spiral, killing your friendships, your fellowship, and your peace of mind.
It’s easy to get caught in the current. I know. I’ve been there.
As an author, I watched colleagues and friends find publishing houses and receive contracts long before I published my book. I was always truly happy for them on the outside. But on the inside that contract offer to them was a flaming poisonous arrow of envy and jealousy that hit dead center of my heart.
In my suspense novel, Light Out of Darkness, one artist’s envy of another artist’s talent resulted in an impulsive action that led to regret and changed the course of the rest of his life and others. In the end, he lost his faith and eventually lost his mind.
How do we prevent the downward spiral of envy, jealousy and covetousness before it destroys our lives? I would like to suggest ten principles that can help us gain perspective when we feel tempted to succumb to these destructive emotions.
1) You Were Created with a Unique Purpose.
Psalm 139:13 – 18 confirms God’s creative purposes for us. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works … And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me (vs. 14 and 16).
2) You Were Created with Unique Talents and Abilities
1 Corinthians 4:7 exhorts us to have a proper perspective of our unique gifts. What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? The Message version puts it this way: Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need.
3) God Gave You Responsibility for Your Own Work.
Galatians 6:4 – 5 implores each person to take responsibility for his own work and not worry about someone else’s. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boating in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one shall bear his own load.
4) Your Worth is Not Dependent on Your Performance.
Romans 5:6 – 8 establishes God’s love for us, poured out through Jesus, His Son, who chose to become sin for us to save us from sin and death. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (vs. 8).
5) Relationship is More Important than Celebrity.
Philippians 2:1 – 4 encourages us to rejoice with our friends when good comes their way. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another more important than yourselves … (vs.3).
6) Your Work is About Pleasing God and Not Man.
Colossians 1:10 – 12 confers on us to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord—working to please Him rather than to please man. Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work … (vs. 10).
7) Your Choices have Consequences for Good or Bad
1 Samuel 16: 13 – 14 warns us to guard our hearts against jealousy and envy that lead to death. Then Samuel … anointed him [David] … and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David … Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul …
8) A Moldable Heart will Reap Eternal Blessings in the Hands of a Sovereign God.
Jeremiah 18:1 – 8 reminds us to stay soft in the hands of God to continually fashion us into a vessel for His good purposes. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make (vs. 4).
9) You can Trust the Lord for Your Future.
Proverbs 3:5 – 6 promises that if we trust God in all things, He will establish our way. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understand. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.
10) The Lord Always has Your Back.
Psalms 27:1, 3 assures us that we can trust God for his sovereign care. We need not fear what lies ahead or the enemy that might be around the corner. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? … Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; Though war rise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident.
Note: All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Version.