It’s easy to look at what others have and wish we had it too. In the quiet places of our hearts we think if we only had their __________ , then we’d be happy.
Envy is one of the top ten temptations we all face. In the Old Testament language it's called covetousness and is commandment number ten of ten: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife... or anything that is your neighbor's." (Exodus 20:17)
But how do we stop looking at what others have and wishing it was ours? What’s the antidote to envy?
Envy = Stuck
One of history’s greatest worship leaders wrestled with envy. His name was Asaph. King David appointed him as the chief minister “to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.” (1 Chronicles 16:4-5) Asaph wrote twelve of the 150 Psalms recorded in the Bible.
But when Asaph looked around at his life it seemed like everyone else was winning and he was losing. He sized up the world and confessed,
“I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.” (Psalm 73:3-5)
Asaph was honest about his envy.
The Great Until
The lie underneath our envy tells us that having what we want will make us content. But it's a trap. Our dream house, a better-looking spouse, early retirement and all the best that money can buy will not satisfy.
Instead, what will free us is the same thing that melted Asaph’s envy - seeing life from God’s perspective. In Psalm 73:17 Asaph wrote,
“When I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God…”
Earth's perspective was not enough; he needed heaven's. The sanctuary of God became the place where Asaph’s mind was renewed. He traded his thoughts for God's. This was the key. When Asaph set his mind on God above, his circumstances did not change, but his perspective did.
Nothing On Earth
In God's presence Asaph recognized that he was rich with the truest and most precious of treasures. He wrote,
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)
Imagine being able to say: “There is nothing on earth that I desire besides God." What a statement!
If I never get another raise, if I never buy a home, if I never take another vacation, if I never eat at my favorite restaurants, if nothing in my life ever changes, God is enough for me. He is my portion and he is enough. The antidote to envy is contentment in the God who is worth more than the world.
If we're going to fulfill our potential as gospel patrons we need to battle against envy. We need to stop looking for happiness in the things of this world and join Asaph in the sanctuary of God.