“Lord Deliver Me”… from My Envy
by Abiding Love
1 Peter 2:1-3 — Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As we enter the season of lent today, we continue a devotional series on what are known as the “seven deadly sins”. Such a list isn’t found in Scripture, even though each of these sins are mentioned often. The seven deadly sins are seven ways our naturally sinful heart shows itself. These wrong attitudes of the heart are at the root of much of our sinful behavior. They also sit beneath much of our misery because they undermine having God as the joy and center of our life.
“Of all the deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all.” This quote by Joseph Epstein rings too true in our hearts. To taste the pleasures of gluttony or lust or to obtain the vengeance of wrath at least offer a temporary fix of good feelings. What does envy offer? Misery. It offers the constant sense that others are some how unfairly better than us. It leaves us bitter about other’s good fortune or success.
So why would our hearts fall into envious habits? Because of pride. We love to be #1. So we start chasing that sense of being the greatest and best. We turn all our relationships into competitions. Our mind runs through countless comparisons with the people around us, constantly judging and concluding whether we measure up to one person’s status and another person’s honor. We can’t possibly win them all. In fact, we will most likely conclude that we are on the short end of the stick the majority of the time. This leaves our pride punctured, our self-worth in shambles, and our attitude towards the others with whom we were secretly competing bitter. Envy is the life of the persistent sore loser.
Envy births a surprising child — hatred. Envy’s bitterness over perceiving itself less than another leaves us hating the people around us. We start to complain about them, slandering them and criticizing them and enjoying when others do the same. We start to enjoy seeing them suffer or lose or fall short in some way. Dare we even try to sabotage them so that they fail? King Saul became so envious of David that he tried to kill him.
Envy lives in our society. Politics can capitalize on a class envy of those who bitterly feel that life has not been fair to them and those who have more should have that “more” taken away to make things equal. Social media is leaving a generation trying to prove themselves with the right selfie and most the time hating themselves and feeling bitter toward their online “friends” for all the great times they are posting.
But we don’t have to look out to see envy. We just have to look in.
God speaks to the danger of envy that by calling us to see it and sorrow over it and repent of it, envy may begin to lose its handle on our hearts. But seeing and sorrowing over our envy is just the beginning. God’s answer is the spiritual milk of the gospel.
By “spiritual milk” God is taking us back to the basics of what God has done to rescue us. God so loved you that he gave you his Son. Drink in that milk — God loves you. Our Savior’s death has paid the full guilt-price of all our bitter envy and selfish ambition. Drink in that milk — God has forgiven you. God now has reconciled you to himself. He calls you his own. You have been given the high status of being God’s royal priest, a part of God’s chosen people belonging to Him. Drink in that milk — Jesus Christ’s redeeming work has given you surpassing worth.
Taste that the Lord is good, Find your satisfaction in Him. Drink your spiritual milk.
Doesn’t it seem to make all those other hidden, envious competitions in our hearts seem rather trivial? Maybe we can get rid of them and not lose anything. Maybe we can keep craving the gospel as the place our souls are satisfied. Maybe this will help us “grow up in our salvation” attaining a maturity that truly loves others rather than competes with them.
Peace in Jesus,
Pastor John Gensmer
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