It was wrong and I knew it, but I couldn’t seem to stop envying a church planter in my area whose church seemed far more successful. In fact, every Sunday I had to drive past his church to get to my temporary facility, and when I drove by my thoughts were along the lines, “Why does he seem to have so much more success, Lord? It’s not fair. He has a nice facility; I have a temporary facility. He has a big crowd; I have a little huddle.”
It didn’t occur to me that there were a lot of other factors involved. I knew virtually nothing about how his church started. I had no idea if they were leading people to Christ. I did not know about his walk with God. I did not consider God’s sovereignty. I just knew I coveted what he had.
After a year or so of this sinful attitude, one night I attended an evening service at that church. Their District Superintendent was there. To my amazement, I had stumbled into a service where they were discussing what to do now that their pastor had been caught in adultery.
His family was shattered, his ministry ruined, and his testimony to the community was stained.
I started to learn a lesson that evening about the foolishness of envy. The Bible has strong words to say about what I was doing; “For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.” (James 3:15)
Ouch—jealousy is so evil it is called “demonic!”
But how can we overcome envy? Even the persistent, deep-rooted kind that I had?
Here are 4 ways to overcome envy and find contentment:
01. Stop Making Comparisons
Comparison is the root of envy. If we eliminate comparison, we automatically eliminate envy. And as a bonus, we help to eliminate pride when we seem to have more than others.
Scripture says: “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV)
OK, it is hard not to compare when everywhere you turn, you see what others have. This week my friend Steve caught me comparing again and called me on it. I thanked him for his gentle rebuke that day and again the next day. I needed it.
God’s warning in James is clear: “For where envy and self seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” (James 3:16 NKJV)
02. Be Content with What you Have
God’s instruction to us is also clear: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)
There are always those with more:
If we have a nice house, we can certainly find someone with a nicer house.If we have influence, there are those who have more.If we have money, there are those with more.
Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we must find contentment in what we have and remember that everything in this world is very temporary.
Real wealth is found at the end of the verse above, “for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)
Steve Jobs had immense money, prestige, influence and most anything he wanted. But in the end, all that mattered was his relationship with the Lord Jesus, or lack of it. Click here to find eternal riches.
03. Thank God for What You Have
Our family just finished building and moving into our “dream home.” But with boxes everywhere and so many details unfinished, it is easy to focus on the mess and the unfinished, resulting in discontent in our dream home. Kinda turns our dream home into a tent of discon-tent! What a waste.
The answer is obvious.
Instead of focusing on the unfinished, we must focus on and thank God for the finished.Instead of focusing on the mess, we must focus on and thank God for all that has been accomplished.Instead of focusing on all the work to be done, we must focus on and thank God for all the work that has been done.
Doing this is quite biblical: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)
The truth is that we don’t really so much “find contentment” as “cultivate contentment.” If we nurture a comparing, complaining attitude, we will reap discontent. But if we cultivate a grateful attitude, we will find contentment.
04. Trust God to Provide
Perhaps your envy is rooted in real need:
You don’t have enough funds to pay your bills
You need a job to support your family
You need healing.
These are not just luxuries, they are real needs. I get it. And God understands.
So what is the answer to find contentment in these situations of real need? The answer is to thank God for this opportunity to trust Him to meet your needs and then wait to see how He provides.
“And my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 KJV)
Thank God you are in a prime opportunity for a miracle of God’s provision. What is a miracle? It is that act of God that fills the gap between our need and our lack of resources. If there is no “impossible” need,
there can be no miracle. Thank God and watch for his provision.
May you find contentment no matter your situation today!