Envy. This little four-letter word could possibly be one of the most destructive words in the English language. Are you thinking, Rhonda, that’s quite an exaggeration isn’t it? After all, we have all heard of someone being green with envy, we’ve probably even experienced it ourselves. No harm done really in most cases, right?
Humor me for a moment, please. This thought has been resonating around in my head this week as I started really contemplating the question of: Do good Christian girls ever get envious?
Let’s roll the calendar back to the beginning of time when everything was created by God. Everything belonged to him. EVERYTHING! The Bible tells us that God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden. There He gave them free reign to eat from every tree in the garden except for one – the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This is the only fruit God said they could not have (Genesis 2).
And right there, at the beginning of everything, envy raised its snake-like head. Being convinced by the devil that she was missing out on something, Eve, then Adam, made a costly mistake. Genesis 3:6-7 states:
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful, and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So, she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So, they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. NLT
It’s pretty easy for us to sit in our favorite chair and think how foolish Eve was to trade all the peace and perfection that surrounded her in Eden for a piece of fruit. But I believe we should make no mistake about this; it was NOT about the fruit! It was the fact that God had something Eve wanted, something she felt should be hers. So, while the serpent came along and tempted her, it was Eve’s own envious desires that led to that fateful bite. Sure, the fruit was beautiful and looked delicious, but most of all she wanted to be like God (Genesis 3:4-6). She would know everything, and she deserved to know everything, right?
Do you see it? She wanted something that was not hers!
Wow, we women have a very long history of looking outside of our own lives and thinking that the thing someone else possesses, whether it is their husband, their home, their hair or even their intelligence, is what we need to complete our own story. We get twisted up so easily thinking that somehow we have not been given what should be rightly ours. We fail to see the blessings and protections God has already given us.
Maybe it’s not every woman. Maybe it’s just Eve and I, but something tells me you’ve been envious of someone or something during your lifetime as well. What is it that allows the serpent to so easily convince us to want what everyone else has?
At the beginning, I stated that envy could well be one of the most destructive words in our vocabulary. Let me correct that. It is not the word, but the emotion that is lethal. According to Proverbs 14:30:
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. NIV
Let’s look at our own day-to-day and see where envy pops up. I’ll start with a recent example of my own and assume you have a similar instance that you could point to as well.
Over the last year or so, I have gotten serious about my health. I hired a behavioral modification specialist/nutritionist/fitness instructor to help me understand why I was making poor food choices and why it seemed that my health was not improving no matter how hard I tried to make better choices. Trust me when I say, I have tried an endless number of ways to be a swimsuit model.
As a result of obedience to the instruction I have been given, I have lost forty plus pounds. Huge accomplishment, right? However, as I have inched closer to attaining my fitness goals, it has become more difficult to lose an ounce, much less a pound. Enter envy just on cue!
I had really buckled down. I ate exactly according to plan, drank the recommended water amount required, and walked the 10,000 plus steps every day that week. On Monday, it was time to step on the scale. I was up 1.5 lbs. Immediately I was envious of my friends that just the night before had wolfed down pizza and ice cream while I drank water. I wanted their metabolism, their figures, their life. I was envious.
Yes, I am a Christian and was envious! There, I said it. I allowed envy to blind me from the success I have had thus far. If I had allowed the emotion of envy to stay, I would have thrown in the towel, welcomed feelings of despair, and as my own history proves, comforted myself with brownies, candy, or some other vice, possibly destroying my journey to health and wellness.
I’m not saying that I easily dismissed the feelings of envy. I didn’t! I spent more time crying and complaining about my reflection in the mirror than I would care to admit to you. But, as I grow closer in my walk with God, I am better equipped to see the lies that envy tells. This time, instead of heading off to the pantry, I headed to my prayer closet. I poured out my disappointment and frustrations to God. I asked Him to release me from always comparing myself to others and I repented for being discontent with what He has blessed me with. I needed to give it to Him and allow Him to work in my spirit. As much as I want to vent, I also need to have an open heart to hear the Lord. God wants to be the center of my life; He wants to fill the empty spaces. God wants me to be jealous for Him alone.
1Timothy 6:6-9 speaks about those who long to be rich, putting their desires before everything else, and how true godliness with contentment is, in itself, a great wealth. In other words, contentment is the key. These verses are discussing money, but we can insert anything that we are envious of in its place. For me, it is body image. What is it for you?
I don’t know why God chose to create me to be a towering 5’2” tall with a rather solid build. But He did and that needs to be enough. He also created me to have a sense of humor, to be fiercely loyal to friends and family, and to be smart, honest, and hardworking. He gifted me with a husband that goes to crazy lengths to ensure I’m happy, sons that love me, and several beautiful grandchildren. Lastly, God has blessed me with a heart that wants to, above all else, honor Him.
Envy continues to try and rise up in me every so often, but through the relationship I now have with my Lord, it usually isn’t successful in the long term at getting me to take that bite. I pray that you too will press into God when envy comes slithering about.
So, to answer the question we started with: Do good Christian girls ever get envious? I would have to say, yes, of course we do. We are human and part of our human condition is struggling with the brokenness of this world. However, as Christians, we have a weapon that is above all things. When envy strikes, we have the Lord who helps us to stand back up. Press in sisters! Don’t trade the paradise you’ve been given for the shiny lie envy is holding.
Written by Rhonda Carlsen
Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT and the NIV
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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