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?

Surrounded by unfailing love

Daily Readings: Leviticus 5-8, Psalm 32

The Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Psalm 32:10-11

I love these two verses. Over and over again throughout my life I have seen God’s unfailing love surround me throughout the day when I choose to trust him. However, when I look back at times in my life where God’s presence felt farther away throughout the day, they always correlate directly with times where I am not trusting God fully. Sometimes these can be prolonged stretches of weeks, months, or even years. Occasionally it can simply be individual hours or days. Regardless, when I am not trusting in God’s plan for my life, I immediately do not feel surrounded by his love. I immediately have very little peace. Immediately I turn back to trying to do everything out of my own strength.

In these moments where I am not walking closely with God in my actual day-to-day life, when God feels far from me, if you were to ask me if I trusted God, I would probably respond, “Of course!” However, I would really just be referring to salvation. There is a huge difference between having trust in future salvation and complete trust in a loving father in heaven that will have our back here on earth as well. That second form of trust is so much more difficult. Our human nature wants to evaluate that second form of trust in real time, moment to moment, and assess whether God is doing his part! We want to step back at noon and see some fruit from our trust!

It is amazing how fleeting our trust can be.

Our Western world has turned our life into a constant status update. Our brains become almost frantic in the need to assess in real time what is happening in our world. Think about the number of times a day most people touch their cell phones. We get that little rush of dopamine every time we see that we have a new text, someone commented on our Facebook post, someone liked a tweet of ours, a new email came in from someone we have been waiting a while to hear back from, etc. It is so easy to fall into the constant trap of checking, and rechecking, and rechecking again. What is the latest? How is it going?

Unintentionally, this mindset trickles into the way we view God and trusting in his sovereign will in our lives. We pray, “God, I want to walk with you today. Give me peace of mind throughout my day and help me to view people the way you view people. Help me to have an impact through my work today.” Then by 10 AM we are assessing how are day is going so far.

“Why isn’t my day going better? Why can’t I stay focused on God and his will instead of my own? I trust God, but nothing has changed. Today is exactly the same as yesterday…”

2 hours in…

What is the latest? How have my prayers been going? Is God going to provide?

Status update, status update, status update.

God says, “Trust in me fully. See what happens. If you would just turn over your entire day, week, month, and year to me, you would feel my love absolutely surrounding you throughout the entire day. Let me shower you with my love. I just need you to trust me fully and not just with an hour or two before becoming distracted by your normal worries, stresses, and anxieties you have been allowing to control your day. I am right here with you. I just need you to turn and embrace me.”

The only way I have found in my life to walk consistently in this place of absolute trust is to fully embrace the second verse above. Immediately after we are told that God’s love surround us when we trust in him fully we read:

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!

In my life I have found these take place in the opposite order typically. I first need to rejoice in the Lord and be glad, and then trust follows. Not the other way around.

When I think about the amazing sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf and how we have been promised over and over again throughout the Bible that God will provide if we simply trust him, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of thankfulness. This thankfulness spills over into a deeper level of trust in my day-to-day walk.

It is impossible for your brain to be incredibly thankful and incredibly stressed at the same time.

Today, embrace a spirit of thankfulness! Let your heart absolutely sing out to the Lord! Rejoice! Stop thinking about how your day is going in the moment you are in and accept God’s love that desperately wants to surround you throughout the entire day. When we trust in him fully, he truly does lead us beside quiet waters regardless of the craziness and turmoil we may face. When we trust in him fully, we quickly regain an eternal perspective and the challenge we are facing at 1:30 PM on a Wednesday rapidly melts away to it’s proper size.

God wants to surround you with love today. Go give him a full day of trust and not just a solid two hour chunk. He is there ready and waiting!

Thought to ponder

What habits in my life are contributing to a “status update mindset” towards trusting God with my day-to-day walk? What am I doing to sabotage my own ability to feel God’s love surround me throughout the day?

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