Grace: God’s Check against Envy

[Helpful thoughts from Paul David Tripp’s devotional book entitled New Morning Mercies (November 27)]:

Today you’ll envy the blessings of another or you’ll bask in the wonder of the amazing grace  you have been given.

I wish I could say that I am always content. I wish I could say that I never complain. I wish I could say that I never want what others have. I wish I could say that I have never envied the life of another. I wish I could say that I have never thought that God gave something to someone else that he meant for me. I wish I could say that I am better at counting my blessings than I am at assessing what I don’t have. I wish I could say that my appetite for things wasn’t so large. I wish my heart would finally be satisfied. These are all wishes because they are not yet completely true of me. Envy still lurks in my heart. It is one of the dark results of the sin that still resides there.

Why does the Bible speak so strongly against envy? Here it is: when envy rules your heart, the love of God doesn’t. Let’s think about what envy does. It assumes that you deserve blessings that you don’t deserve. When your heart is ruled by envy, the attitude of “I am blessed” gets replaced with the attitude of “I deserve.” Envy is selfish to the core. Envy always puts you in the center of the world. It makes everything all about you. It causes you to examine life from the sole perspective of your wants, needs, and feelings.

Sadly, envy causes you to question the goodness, faithfulness, and wisdom of God. Envy accuses God of not knowing what he’s doing or of not being faithful to what he’s promised to do. When you are convinced that a blessing that another person has ought to belong to you, you don’t just have a problem with that person, you have a problem with God. When you begin to question God’s goodness, you quit going to him for help. Why? Because you don’t seek the help of someone you’ve come to doubt.

Envy does something else that is spiritually deadly. It assumes understanding that no one has. Envy not only assumes that you know more about that other person’s life that you could ever know, it assumes that you have a clearer understanding of what is best than God does. Furthermore, envy causes you to forget God’s amazing rescuing, transforming, empowering, and delivering grace. You become so occupied with accounting for what you do not have that the enormous blessings of God’s grace—blessings that we could not have earned, achieved, or deserved—go unrecognized and uncelebrated. And because envy focuses more on what you want than what it does on the life that God has called you to, it keeps you from paying attention to God’s commands and warnings, and therefore leaves you in moral danger.

The only solution to envy is God’s rescuing grace—grace that turns self-centered sinners into joyful and contented worshippers of God.

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