Green With Envy
Friday, October 9, 2009

Envy

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart.  He is forever mine.”  (Ps. 73:26)

           

            Have you ever wondered why some people, who have never darkened the doorsteps of a church, seem to prosper and grow rich?  Have you ever looked upon the lives of devout Christians who are struggling financially and wondered why God doesn’t seem to bless them?  Have you ever compared the rich to your own life, and begin to question God?  These are certainly human tendencies that we see littered throughout the Scriptures.  Psalm 49, Psalm 73, I Timothy 6 are all glaring examples of people of God letting their hearts drift toward envy of the wealthy.  However, while each case begins with the heart drifting away from God and it ends with a deeper understanding of who God is.  Let’s look this morning at the 73rd Psalm to answer our own questions about “why do ungodly people prosper and grow rich.”

 

            The psalmist begins by saying, “I almost lost my footing.  My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone, for I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.”  He admits to the human tendency of envy of those who seem to have it made – from the worldly viewpoint – regardless of their pride and lack of righteousness.  And he almost let this envy cause him to lose his relationship with God (I almost lost my footing.).  The next several verses demonstrate that he was becoming obsessed with this envy.  He said, “They live such painless lives; they don’t have troubles like other people; these fat cats have everything; and they are confusing God’s people with their arrogant words.” (my paraphrase)  And then he begins to question his own faith.  “Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?  Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?”  Do those sentiments ever cross your mind?  They certainly creep into my heart from time to time.

 

            And if you ever find yourself in a position when you envy the wealthy and even worse, question God for allowing them to be wealthy, the psalmist gives you a cure.  Notice he did not say “I lost my footing, my feet slipped and I fell.”  No, he catches himself with God’s truth.  He said, “I went into Your sanctuary, O God.”  The key to destroying envy in your life is to go into the presence of God.  For when the psalmist’s spirit was filled with God’s presence, he began to see things as they truly were.  Wealth and prosperity are only temporary – God is eternal; wealth and prosperity only satisfy for a moment – God satisfies eternally.  He recalled, “Truly, You put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.  In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors.”

 

            I once worked for Winthrop Rockefeller.  He was the son of the very wealthy John D. Rockefeller.  Once John D. was asked, how much is enough money?  And he responded, “Just a little more.”  He could never be happy with what he had and somehow believed that just a little more would help.  When Winthrop was dying of cancer, I saw him frail and reflective.  He always called me “young man.”  And he said, “Young man, I would give up all I have to be your age again.”  Now I am the age he was when he died.  And I certainly never achieved his wealth or fame, but what I do have is a peace of mind that can come only resting in the presence of God.

 

            The psalmist concludes to the real answer to dealing with envy.  “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.  Those who desert Him will perish, for You destroy those who abandon You.  But as for me, how good it is to be near God!  I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.”

 

            So let me summarize.  If you find there are times when slip into a materialistic envy, the way to quickly recover is to get yourself immediately into the presence of God.  Don’t worry when the rich grow richer; only see how rich you are to be able to be in God’s presence without shame or guilt.  And then remember that God is your strength and He will be forever.  What a great gift He has given you to be called His child.  No other gift is even on the radar screen of importance when we reflect upon that.


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Victor, ID 83455
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