Envy, Success, Glory
We are not homebodies in our family. We like to get out of the house, go outside, and enjoy whatever is happening “out there.” It’s not that we don’t appreciate time at home and
peace and quiet to ourselves. But being together away from a screen or a book affords us the time to actively engage with one another and learn more about how we’re wired. Spending time with my family helps me understand myself better. My children are basically less sophisticated versions of me.
At the heart level, they want what I want, only it’s expressed without the nuance we learn as we mature into adulthood. So when our family takes a rather innocuous trip to Target to pick up a few household items, their persistent asking of “Can I get this?” or “I really want that,” or “Can we go to the kids’ section?” spotlights my inner motivations as well. The latest toys or outfits my kids desire never about the thing itself. It’s about the heart under the thing. They want what will make them feel strong and confident; something that will bring them pleasure and a sense of safety and freedom. Their desires expose an envy of others who have what they lack and they believe that their jealous discomfort can be assuaged by taking possession of the object of their envy. And even more insidious is the feeling that if we buy them what they want, then they may become the envy of others too. As adults, the knot becomes even more tangled because we equate success with the beauty of one’s home, the quality of their vehicles, the extravagance of their vacations, and the success of their business. We envy the physical beauty and health of our friends, their intellectual quotient, and their social acumen. And no doubt, there is a good measure of glory on this side of heaven that comes with such tangible evidences of accomplishment. Jealousy is a terrible burden to bear. The enemy uses it to condemn us; to tells us we’re no good, that we’ll never measure up, that we’re failures, and that we’re destined for a life of mediocrity at best. It causes us to call the goodness of God into question; that if he really loved us and desired our well-being, then he would be more generous. It also breeds contempt for our neighbors rather than love for them. You can’t love people well if you covet what they have or who they are. This is one of an endless list of reasons why we need Jesus Christ and his gospel so badly. Because what the gospel tells us is that everything we are jealous of in others, we already have. We already have the freedom of full acceptance. We’re already safe from condemnation. We already have the promise that he will supply our every need. We already have the hope of glory. There is nothing that we could acquire or achieve in this life that surpasses what we already have in Christ. At no point will you ever have enough to assuage the discontent of a covetous heart. It’s a bottomless pit. Only what Jesus has accomplished for you and applied to you in the gospel will set you free from that bondage. We do well to shift our eyes away from all that glitters and shines, and to cast our gaze upon him.