Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following… Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” ~John 21:20-22
If we’re honest, most of us are jealous or envious of others. Regardless of how good we have it, there is always someone who, at least in our view, has it better. It’s pretty easy to envy others, isn’t it? I have struggled quite a bit with this particular sin. I am pretty young to be as limited in my mobility as I am. Many friends my age are still running, playing tennis, and hiking. Since my surgeries, I’ve known several people who’ve had knee replacements, and not one of them has had a single complication. They all came back from their six weeks of rehab ready to get back into their active lifestyle, while I struggle just to maintain the minimal functionality that I have. It is easy to feel envious, and would be just as easy to become bitter.
But the Scripture that I quoted above is a saving grace for me each time I have an opportunity to be jealous. No matter what the temptation, as my thoughts try to default to envy, I can almost hear my Savior saying to me, “If it was my will that she had a perfect knee surgery, what is that to you? I’ve called you to follow and serve me. I’ve given you all that you need, to do the things I’ve called you to do. Stop looking at her and look at me.” This thought stops me in my tracks every time, and renews my mind so that I can tell my friend how happy I am for her that her surgery went well.
When we are happy for the blessings of others, we can love them as Christ has called us to do. As believers, we are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. How am I loving the Lord if I am discontented with what he’s given me, coveting his gifts to others? How am I loving the Lord if I am questioning His love for me by calling Him unfair? Am I loving my neighbor if I have bitter envy and self-seeking in my heart (See James 3:14)? The answer to all these questions is, “I’m not.” If I am envious of others, then I am discontent with what I have, and I am not grateful for what my Father has given me. If I am envious of others, I am not happy for them, and I cannot love them because I resent their happiness.
My friend, I know that there are many people who appear to have it better than you. But rest assured, you have it better than someone else. That’s right, probably even in your own church right now, there is someone who sees your life or circumstances as better in some way than theirs. Everyone has pain of some kind, and everyone longs for something that they don’t have. The response that is always better than envy is love: Love for the Lord and love for your neighbor.
Look around you, sister. There are many hurting, many grieving, many suffering. Reach out and help one of them. You will quickly forget your petty jealousy and self-focus when you reach out to help someone who is suffering. If you have been envious, stop looking at others and what they have, and look at Christ. Follow Him in obedience. There is no better cure for envy than love.