Escaping Envy

May 3, 2008
by John Stuart

Psalm 73:25 – Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (NIV)

Psalm 73 is one of my favourite psalms. It deals with jealousy and envy. The writer feels that he is losing out on the spoils of life and the riches of success. He is faithful to God but not wealthy. He is a good person surrounded by "evil" people who possess more than he owns.

He's suffering from clerical envy, or what I call holy jealousy. And I know exactly how he feels. Pastors are meant to be quiet, unassuming, and humble people. We are supposed to be examples of peace, happiness, and contentment. But we're not. When it comes to our churches, most of us are territorial and always comparing our failures to the successes of other pastors. I guess it's a mixture of insecurity and narcissism, instead of faith and loving God.

Anyway, if you take time to read the whole of Psalm 73, you'll know exactly what I mean. The psalmist expresses his disappointment with God and vehemently points out the wickedness of others. He is essentially saying to God, "I have done everything right and been perfectly faithful. So, why aren't You blessing me, God?" It's a question that pastors constantly ask, as well as other Christians in their own workplaces.

The turning point in the psalm occurs when the writer realizes that possessions are only temporary and that his life is meant to serve God, not himself. That's the part that I like the most, because it reminds me not to value myself through the things I own, but to count myself fortunate that I am owned by God. In the end, all of my possessions will turn to dust, and my ambitions will all fade away. In the end, only God will be important to me.

Prayer: Lord God, we are sorry that we allow envy and greed, jealousy and ambition to overwhelm our spirits at times. We are sorry that our insecurity and desires take away our contentedness and satisfaction with life. Forgive us, Lord, for surrounding ourselves with possessions that we cannot hold on to, or things that we will have to leave behind. Help us to focus on the eternal goodness of Your love and the everlasting blessings of Your grace. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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