June 16, 2011

Holiness and Envy

James 3:13-18

Rid yourselves of all … envy …
1 Peter 2:1


Are you frustrated that your family isn’t as refined as some others are? Are you disgusted that you’ve driven the same car for 15 years while your neighbor enjoys the latest luxury vehicle? If these or similar concerns plague your soul, the sin of envy may be consuming you.

On the one hand, a desire for the success that others have seems harmless. Who doesn’t want some of life’s perks? But desire can easily become poisonous envy when it begins to resent the successes, luxuries, accomplishments, or any other blessings of others. When envy wins, everyone loses.

How do you know if you are envious? Does a spirit of discontent dominate your soul? Does a spirit of coveting prevent you from celebrating the Lord’s goodness toward others? Do you ask God to bless you more than your neighbor? Would your peers say you act as if the universe revolves around you?

Contentment is the cure for envy! Through the extremes of poverty and hunger Paul learned a timeless lesson: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Contentment finds value in God’s love rather than in human achievement, and it finds purpose in obedience rather than in trying to keep pace with others. Only a life lived for God will deliver us from envy.

Lord, help me be content, whatever the circumstances. Deliver me from envy, and by your Spirit teach me to adopt your thoughts and goals. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Calvin Hoogendoorn

Rev. Calvin Hoogendoorn serves as senior pastor of First Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Previously he served two churches in Illinois. He and his wife, Carla, have three daughters.

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