Day 53 – What do we envy?

Daily Readings – Leviticus 26-27, Psalm 37

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 37:1-7

I imagine this passage in Psalms speaks to everyone out there attempting to be a marketplace missionary! It is so easy look around and see people having a high degree of success in their lives that are teetering on the line of ethical behavior, pushing the envelope a little too far, or blatantly taking advantage of others and doing the wrong thing over and over again. If we are simultaneously in the midst of a season of life where we have not felt God’s blessings on our work over the course of a few days, months, or years, it is easy to become envious. It is natural to start to ask, “Am I possibly being a bit too uptight in the way I am going about things? Would it really be all that bad if I was to…”

As hard as we try, it is our human nature to slip back into a mindset focused entirely on our current material condition. The desires of our heart constantly pull us back towards the comparison game, materialism, and status.

This doesn’t simply go for career success, money, or position. It applies to most things. A classic example for me throughout high school was the old adage, “Nice guys finish last.” I would look around and see so many absolute jerks taking advantage of women, treating them poorly, having the worst of intentions, and yet seemingly thriving in that department. It was easy to envy. It was natural to think, “Maybe they are right…”

I have had those moments in my career where I have seen others in similar positions to me having success while doing business in such a way that is not focused on serving God and serving others. It has been easy to ask, “Do they have a point? Would it really be that big of a deal if…”

The Bible tells us, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” 

Waiting patiently…easier said than done. In Genesis 18 we saw the story of Abraham and Sarah and saw the perfect example of needing patience. God has his own timeline and his own version of righteous rewards that do not always match up with ours.

When we read, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” it is easy to turn this into the health and wealth gospel. Just delight in the Lord and he will give you that amazing house, car you have always wanted, perfect children, incredible vacations, etc.

And yet I have found repeatedly in my own life that when I am delighting in the Lord, the desires of my heart shift. I am not as concerned about the status of the guy next to me. I am not envious of the material possessions of person I perceive as cutting corners and behaving unethically. I am not thinking about material possessions, bank accounts, etc. The desires of my heart shift towards doing the work of the Father. My desires shift towards having opportunities to pour into others and spread his Kingdom here on earth.

When I delight in the Lord, he has never failed to put people in my path that I am able to impact. He has never failed in giving me these desires of my heart! And when focused on these, envy has no choice but to melt away!

Thought to ponder

What are the current desires of my heart? Where have I fallen into envy of others that is not in line with the life God has called me to live? How can I delight more in the Lord and have more patience and trust with his plan for my life?

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