Comparing ourselves to someone else is a race we can never win.
We will always lose – we lose relationships, we lose contentment, we lose the ability to see anything good in our lives, we lose spiritually, and we lose emotionally.
How do we feel when someone else has an ability, a characteristic, or material goods that we want? When does that wanting turn into jealousy?
Envy – Jealousy – Coveting
“Envy/jealousy/coveting is best defined as a tendency to hate other people for having what we want. Envy says, ‘What is inside me is bad. What is outside me is good. I hate anyone who has something I desire.’” (from “Safe People” by Drs. Cloud and Townsend).
Envy can taint our thinking so much that the loving and generous people in our lives become the “bad guys”. We end up hating people who are really good to us, good for us, and who love us.
How twisted is that?
Those who want the best for us become our enemies because of the extreme jealousy we have over their abilities.
Comparing ourselves to others and wanting what they have will result in jealousy. Jealousy kills relationships, and it destroys us.
This truth is evident in the relationship between King Saul and David. David is just a young shepherd boy when he’s sent to the Israelite camp to bring supplies to his brothers. When he arrives, he sees Goliath, the Philistine giant, taunting the terrified Israelite army. David takes his sling and a bag of rocks and kills Goliath, crediting God for his victory. David becomes a war hero, and Saul eventually puts him in charge of his soldiers. They have a good relationship.
Then in I Samuel 18:6-9, that relationship changes because of Saul’s jealousy. The Israelite army comes home from war, and the people are crediting David as a greater warrior than Saul.
After that time, Saul saw David through this fog of jealousy, and he was never able to shake those feelings. He’d try to kill David, then he’d be sorry, then he’d get jealous again and try to kill him. His jealousy started as a tiny seed and grew until it defined his entire life. David could have been Saul’s greatest friend and trusted general, but instead Saul allowed his jealousy to see David as a threat and an obsession.
Glorify God with Your Gifts
God has made us all unique, and gifted us with abilities for us to use, for His glory, not ours. Isaiah 43:7 tells us we were created to glorify God:
…“everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.”
We need to use the abilities God has given us and do them as best as we can. We can fine-tune what we are good at and keep learning something new (we might be really good at that, too), because we are each individually filling in a gap that someone else can’t do.
We need to look at other’s abilities and rejoice that their skills are glorifying God in ways that we can’t do.
What do we do when we have jealous feelings?
Pray about it and stop feeding those jealous thoughts.
Self-control over our thoughts is possible. We don’t have to entertain thoughts of jealousy, we can yell “stop” in our heads (or out loud!) and do something else. By entertaining jealous thoughts, it’s like we invite them in, give them a coke and some popcorn, and put them in the guest room. They will never want to leave!
We need to run the race we can win.
We need to do what we can do for God’s glory, to the best of our abilities, and let others do their best for God’s glory. In this way, God’s family is being built up, and we achieve the purpose that God has set out for us.
Studying God’s word and praying to Him are priorities for me now, but that wasn’t always the case. When I first became a Christian, I struggled with how to study and what to study. Then when we started having children, with a different schedule every day, it got more difficult. I decided the only choice I had was to get up early for my quiet time, but, invariably, that would be the day one of the kids would get up earlier than usual.
Encouragement to Be Intentional
When I look back at those years of raising children, I wish I’d been more intentional in many areas, but one of them was in daily personal study and prayer. Even 10 minutes would have been better than 0 minutes, and if I’d planned ahead what I was going to study and pray about, those 10 minutes would have been very effective and valuable. If I had spent every day listening to God in His word and talking to Him in prayer, I would have been better prepared for the daily stresses as well as the storms of life. As it was, I squandered those days, just drifting along, and missed the accumulative affect of that daily time.
Isaiah 55:10-11 gives an illustration of how powerful and effective God’s word is in our lives.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (NASB)
We know how rain and snow effects the earth, because we see it happening before our very eyes. It doesn’t fall to the earth in vain. We see trees budding and leafing out, vines producing fruit, and grain heading and producing a crop. Isaiah reminds us of something we all know – rain and snow come and make the earth beautiful and fertile, then it returns to heaven (the marvelous water cycle that God put in place).
God’s Word Accomplishes It’s Purpose
God’s word is just as effective on people’s hearts as the rain and snow are on the earth. The evidence is seen in people whose lives are being transformed: from selfishness to serving, from “looking out for #1” to investing in others’ lives, from cursing and telling dirty jokes to speaking with kindness and gentleness, from outbursts of anger to self-control, from hardheartedness to being compassionate, from anxiety and worry to peace, from drifting aimlessly to a life full of purpose. With this transformed life, God’s word is doing its work; it returns to God having accomplished its purpose.
If you aren’t intentional about your study time, it won’t happen. You’ll be drifting along (and we never drift in a good direction). Set aside time to spend with God. It will never be wasted, He promises us that. Even if you feel like you aren’t getting much out of it, the day-to-day habit will make a difference, and one day you will wake up eager for your quiet time.
Sitting on the porch and enjoying the company of others as we talk and get to know each other better is an absolute joy. Although we might not all be able to get together physically, we can do it virtually.
So grab a cup of your favorite drink and let’s get to know Pam a little better. In the months to come, she will be encouraging our hearts by sharing what God is putting on hers.
1. What is your favorite Bible verse?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:6-7
2. Who is the most relatable Bible character to you and why?
He messed up so much that Paul didn’t want him to go with him on his missionary journey, but Barnabas stood up for him and took a chance on him. John Mark didn’t squander this fresh start, and Paul later commends him for his service.
I’ve been like John Mark and have had people like Barnabas in my life, who’ve stood alongside me and encouraged me, spurring me on to do better.
4. What is your favorite go-to easy meal?
Roasted chicken with potatoes/carrots
5. What are your hobbies?
Running, Hiking, Reading, Playing the piano, Singing
6. What is your favorite T.V. show or movie?
7. What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Read a book
8. Who is your role model?
9. Would you rather vacation at a mountain cabin or a beach house?
10. What is the best thing about yourself?
I’m an encourager.
11. What is one of your favorite books and/or what are you reading right now?