Dr. Phil runs into some interesting situations. One situation that I was reading about involved a woman who was envious of another woman because the other woman could eat what she wanted and not gain weight; always got better grades; has more friends; and is much prettier. That might seem normal among some people but this story is a bit more interesting because the two women involved are twins. The ultimate problem for the jealous twin is that rather than comparing herself to her own standards, she measures herself against her sister and tries to live up to her.
When this happens with most people we describe it as “keeping up with the Joneses.” They have a new car, we need a new car. They have a new house, we need a new house. They get new furniture, we need new furniture. And on it goes. We look at the jealous twin in the story above and we shake our heads, but we ourselves often fall into that trap of jealousy. We want nice things, too. Somehow, we get our priorities mixed up and forget about our commitment to God. Solomon warns us about this. “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:17-18)
Envy gets us into all kinds of troubles. At home, it could be spouses comparing what they have with another family – the proverbial Joneses. Their house is always nicer. Their car is always better. Their kids always seem to get better academic and athletic awards. There are grumbles about money that make both husband and wife uneasy and feel unworthy. They seek compensation for their inadequacies and go into debt to keep up with the Joneses. They remodel the house, get a nicer car, and push their kids harder to achieve – only to have the Joneses move to a better neighborhood with a nicer car. If you keep on living comparing your worth to the standards set by other people rather than the standards set by God, you will never be satisfied. Solomon advises us that the cure for those who are jealous is to be zealous for the Lord.
When our zeal is to follow God, it changes our priorities. Material stuff doesn’t seem so important. Our relationship with God comes first. While I am still a sinner, I have a good relationship with God because Jesus paid the penalty for my sin on the cross. My relationship with my wife and my family becomes more important than what other people may think. When my relationship with God is good, it allows me to celebrate with others when they are successful, rather than look at them and think, “I should have had that” (whatever that may be.) Solomon promises that there is a future hope for those who are zealous for God. I think that hope takes on two forms: a hope for earth and a hope for heaven. Our hope on earth is joy. We can appreciate life. We can appreciate our accomplishments and the accomplishments of others. We can enjoy all the life that God has given us on this earth. At the same time, we have a hope for the future in heaven. We can know that when we leave this earth we will be walking with God in the afterlife. If there is joy in walking with Him now, how much more will that joy be when we can be with Him face to face. What is your hope? Is your hope found in the continual competition to gain more stuff? Or is it found in your relationship with Jesus Christ. When we have our hope in Jesus Christ, envy fades away as we realize the insignificance of things.
Oh Lord, remind me of my hope and faith in You each day. Don’t let me fall into the trap of measuring my life with “things;” let me always focus on my relationship with You.