Envy and Surmising: Have You Let Them In?

Proverbs 14:30–“A sound heart is the life of the flesh:  but envy the rottenness of the bones.”
Proverbs 23:17–“Let not thine heart envy sinners:  but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.”


“Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” the Bible says (Proverbs 27:4).  Does your normal “contented” state of being somehow go out the window at Christmas?  Do you look around at others and want what they have? No matter what our status:  marital, financial or other, this time of year we are encouraged to think about “what we want” that we don’t have.  After Christmas you may hear the question, “Did you get what you wanted for Christmas?”  Though these questions in themselves may be innocent, Envy is anything but.  The Bible doesn’t look at it as innocent, and so we should take a good hard look within and make sure it hasn’t slipped in the door unnoticed.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7–
“4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”

Let me ask you, “Is it hard for you to invite others to your home because you don’t think your home is as nice as someone else’s?”  Do you find yourself saying, “If only I had _____” (you fill in the blank)?  Do you find yourself wracking your brain to figure out how you can find the money to get that “thing”……”We have to have that……how come everyone else can afford to go, or do, or have?”

Yesterday, I began an allegorical story about a family and I introduced you to two sisters, “Bitterness and Self-Pity,” who are actually twin sisters, and who almost never go anywhere without each other.  Today, their brother and another sister are joining us, but it’s no pleasure to be around them, let me tell you. Where Bitterness leaves off, and Self-Pity usually hurts only herself, Envy takes action.


1 Timothy 6:6-8–
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”


Envy is wicked.  She spits and spews out venom from her mouth, and scorches all her relationships with the burning desire she has to have what others have.  She is never satisfied.  For all around her she sees the happiness, the richness, the pleasure, the beauty in relationships and things which she does not think she has, but she wants, (but in truth, she will never be happy, no matter how much she has because of her own envy and covetousness).  It doesn’t matter how much Envy has, she always wants more.  (Do you see any family resemblance between her and her cousin, Ingratitude?  Sometimes I do.) 


In the beginning, we may allow Envy to come to our homes and lives to peek in the window, or sit at our table briefly.  We would never openly invite her in.  But we’re hardly aware of her presence, as she looks over our shoulder or drools over the things we see.  She says things like, “Oh, isn’t that beautiful!” or “Wow, is she ever lucky!”

Definition of ENVY (from Merriam Webster’s online dictionary

1
: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage

Glass half-empty or half-full??

You may have seen her next to you when you were looking at your best friend’s photos of the trip she took recently, or when you went to the Bible Study and Christmas Tea and all you could see was the home of the hostess and her lovely, “perfect” it seemed to you, home filled with beautiful furniture and decorations.  It almost made you decide not to attend anymore.  Was that Envy?  She’s hard to recognize sometimes.  She loves to disguise herself.  Envy likes to look “appropriate,” so she oftentimes waits just a little while before buying that thing that she has envied, and she even covers up her true character at times by ridiculing something that someone else has, but that she secretly wants, to “prove” that she doesn’t want it at all.  In her heart, though, she believes that she “deserves” what she envies in someone else’s life, and that if only she had it, then she would be happy.  She covets what she sees, and her eyes are never full.

Envy’s brother, Surmising Accuser, is the sneakiest family member, though.  I am certain you have met him, and perhaps even in some fine Christian homes!!  Sometimes he is known by other nicknames, such as Assuming, Conjecturing, and Guessing, or nicer names such as Realistic.  But, he gets everyone around him in trouble, tripping them into sin, all the time!  Constantly prophesying and predicting, he will tell you what people are thinking–what you are thinking–what they will do, how they feel about things that have happened–why, he will even tell you how they feel and think about things that haven’t happened, but he surmises that they will happen!  The worst part about him is that he never assumes anything GOOD! 

He follows up his assumptions of wrongdoing in others with an accusation, hence his middle name, Accuser.  He assumes the worst:  in people, in situations, in outcomes.  He guesses how things are going to happen, and states them as fact, without much mercy or grace.  He conjectures that the responses of others will be negative or bad–in word and deed, that all will go wrong, and he predicts that things will turn out badly every time.  He doesn’t stop at thinking, but he reports his predictions.  He causes those he reports to to think evil, too.  He thinks he is speaking truth, but he has forgotten to speak the truth in love (if it is truth), and to think on “whatsoever things are of good report.”


Philippians 4:8–
8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


He often looks pretty good, quite “righteous”!  He appears to be the best of the family, and it can be difficult to actually cast him out, because of appearances–he’s not really doing anything wrong–or is he??


May we be alert to any sign of the presence of this “family of  bad characters” lurking around this Christmas, and be quick to cast them out.
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4 Replies to “Envy and Surmising: Have You Let Them In?”

  1. Wendy –
    I really loved these last two posts! You're a wonderful storyteller. And what a lesson you have taught. Yes, for some reason, I think this little “family” seems to show up more at the holiday season. And sometimes, maybe we let them in the house of our hearts because we're a little more tired, a little more hassled, a little more stressed. However, we still need to be on our spiritual toes – and when this particular bunch of “bad characters” shows up, we have to keep the door shut and say, “NO, thanks!”

    GOD BLESS – thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks, Debra! It's always good to meet others who are “veterans”! We have a lot of stories to tell, and scars to show and compare:)! Thanks, too, for sharing about your literature-based history curriculum with American Girl Dolls. Fun to meet you!
    Blessings,
    Wendy

  3. Lovely site Wendy. Wonderful words of encouragement and great advice!
    I'm also a “veteran” homeschool mom with two grown children and two grandchildren. I still have a teenage daughter with me at home.
    I'm grateful to have discovered your site, and will be returning for more wonderful words of life!
    Hope you'll visit me too.
    Debra
    http://debrasblogpureandsimple.blogspot.com

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