The Antidote to Envy

The tenth commandment says you shall not covet your neighbor’s house or anything that belongs to your neighbor. I don’t covet money or possessions. I tend to envy certain people for their achievements – like classmates who have done very well or colleagues with impressive titles.

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:4, NIV

In his book Signature Sins: Taming the Wayward Heart, Michael Mangis says that envy is about “one’s place in the world.” Envy reflects dissatisfaction with who God made you to be. Envy is never content. When you envy another, you may think that God is withholding what you deserve.

There are many downsides to envy besides ungratefulness. Envy blinds you to your own gifts. Envying someone else is a huge waste of time and energy, like chasing the wind. Even worse, envy can lead to other sins.

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

James 3:16, NIV

Sins have opposite virtues. Mangis calls these opposites antidotes. Antidotes to envy include gratitude, contentment, and satisfaction.

I choose to fight envy with affirmations of my worth and praise to my Creator.

I am uniquely and wonderfully made. (The use of the word “fearfully” in Psalm 139:14 has always puzzled me.)

Thank you, God, for my unique talents and interests, for my spiritual gifts, and for the fruit the Spirit is producing in me. You created me with a purpose far more important than any career.

I am a beloved child of God.

Thank you, Father, for choosing me as your own. You know my name! I am precious to you. Thank you for loving me so much that you want to transform me. You discipline the ones you love.

I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Salvation is my most precious gift. Thank you, Lord, for redeeming me. You paid the ultimate price for my sins and you are my best friend.

Affirmations and praise are good, but I must also change the way I view other people. Regard no one from a worldly point of view. When I am tempted to envy others, may I instead lift them up in prayer.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:14-19

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