One way that I’ve chosen to combat self-love and hypocrisy in my life is to be honest in my writings here, so I guess it’s about time to pay up.
I have been wrestling with a horrible hydra-monster of envy for about three weeks. She popped up seemingly out of nowhere, but I wonder if she’s been brewing just below the surface of conscious thought for awhile, so fierce and persistent her attack has been. It began with a few small passing thoughts here and there: “That girl thinks she’s better than me because she has _______, and I don’t.” Then, some bigger questions, more difficult to ignore: “What is it about her that makes her worthy of _______ and ________, while I have________?“ A thought, then a creed and banner, almost: “It’s NOT FAIR!” Oh, how agonizingly frustrating those words are. And how equally frustrating the answer: Life isn’t fair. Did I really just get on that Merry-go-round again?
God is so gracious to me. He did three things: 1. Allowed this particular sin to come to a head so I could see it for what it was even in my typical spiritual near-sightedness. (I had actually reached a point that I thought it may be a good idea for me to distance myself from those envied, blaming their “insensitivity” for my pain.) 2. Made me desperate enough to humble myself and whisper this sin to others and ask for their prayer against it. 3. Provided a friend who had struggled with the issue herself who gave me a link to an in-depth, biblical blog series on the topic: http://www.girltalkhome.com/blog/category/current_series. I read that blog and felt like they had written it just to me. The author describes how envy is a sin that stems from comparison, almost always of those close to us, and those who have something that is just a little bit better than us that we think we deserve. It comes from a desire to exalt self above others. Ultimately, it is the sin of pride. Yikes.
Satan is so deceitful. I grew up in a family of six, the only girl among three boys, and I can honestly say I don’t have a single recollection of ever comparing myself with my brothers. Not to say that it never happened, but in my mind, we were in a completely different category. I was me, and they were them. I have a list of sin struggles that is as long as any kid’s Christmas list, but this is an area I’d always put under the “strengths” category. This was just not a sin that I struggled with. Until now. I think Scripture has something to say about it: “If any of you thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12).
Not fair? Let’s think about the truth, here, Heather. What is it exactly that you deserve? You, dressed in your finest rags and approaching the throne of grace as a beggar. And what is it, dear, that you have been given (given, mind you, not earned)? To be dressed in white and called a beloved child (1 John 3:1). And if that is not enough, you have been given “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). This Great King’s precious promises, and even more, His sweet abiding presence. And what of the temporal blessings of this earth? Have you forgotten that you’re your so-called measly teacher’s salary places you in the top 3% of the world’s wealth (http://www.globalrichlist.com/)? That 90% of the world lives on $3 a day and 100 million children are starving as we speak? When you feel envy, you are comparing yourself to a fraction of a fraction of a group of people, and feeling sorry for yourself. Look around you. You deserve nothing and you have been given everything. “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).
It has gradually struck me that I was looking so closely at the friends around me that I had completely lost track of the work that God was doing in me. I was so fixated on “her” blessings that I failed to see God’s persistent work in my own soul. And He is doing big things. They are so different, so unexpected, so far beyond anything I could have ever pictured that I really don’t have a good category for them. Oswald Chambers says, “The way the Lord works in others is a complete mystery to you. The only thing that is clear is the way he deals with your own soul.” I had it right at ten years old. I am me, and they are them. End of story. I realized that I have been looking backwards, not forward to mountains that are to be moved. They are so big and distant, and it is more comfortable to look back on what might have been, but this isn’t what God has called me to. He wants me to walk today in obedience on this road, and enjoy traveling resolutely with Him toward those mountains.