For some reason, we tend to envy others. Big time. Be it a car, a position, a house, or a spouse, we want it. There just seems to be part of our nature that sees what we don’t have as what we need.
No matter what season of life we’re in, we tend to feel dissatisfied with who we are, or what we have, compared to someone else.
- The teenager wants to be an adult.
- The single wants to be married.
- Those with no kids want kids.
- Those with kids look forward to the empty nest.
- The retired person longs for the seasons past.
If you’re not enjoying where you are today—and always looking for something better, something new, something else—then you’ll never have freedom in life.
Getting What We Want Doesn’t Fix Us
Ironically, even after we get what we’ve envied, instead of satisfying, it only increases our desire for more. Solomon said it this way:
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).
It’s pointless to try, he says; envy doesn’t satisfy.
Envy is like eating potato chips. One won’t do. You have to eat half the bag. (Unless, of course, they’re low-fat chips. Then you can eat the whole bag.) I can’t drink a coke and be satisfied, because I’m thirstier than when I started.
Envy is like that. It only fuels your desire for more; it doesn’t satisfy.
- More sex doesn’t satisfy your sex-drive; it increases it.
- More money doesn’t satisfy your greed; it increases it.
- More compliments don’t reduce your pride; they increase it.
Envy is a vicious cycle.
Freedom from Envy’s Tug
The best way to gain freedom over envy is to realize and appreciate the blessings you already have. Then comes the tough part: be truly thankful.
Here are 4 tips to gain freedom when envy grabs you:
- Create a “Gratitude List.” You will find it immensely helpful to write down a list of everything you’re thankful for. Everything. You’ll be amazed. Think broad categories: God, family, work, church, —etc. Your outlook will change. Remember, God gave Adam permission to eat from every tree on earth, except one. That’s blessing.
- Give thanks to God, in spite of your needs. Yes, you may have struggles that are severe. True, you have real needs. According to Philippians 4:6-7, when you pray with thanksgiving the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds. Release it into God’s hands, to God’s timing, and to His will. We’re talking about the renewal of the mind.
- Get some encouragement from others. Ask a friend what helps him or her when struggling with envy. Ask them to pray for you and with you.
- Read a good book on contentment. I’m thinking of Jeremiah Burroughs’ classic, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. You can start reading it in the next five minutes as an e-book for $1.
If you have trusted in Jesus Christ—who died for your sins and rose again—then you have a great place to begin giving thanks.
Don’t let the continual dissatisfying cycle of envy blind you to how God has blessed you right now.
Tell me what you think: Have you ever written a gratitude list? What helps you stay grateful? To leave a comment, just click here.