Gospel Over Envy: A Devotion On Where Our Value Lies
This devotion was written by Barrett Loehrer, a senior biblical and theological studies major.
Envy is one of those beasts that can grab hold of you and it feels like there is nothing you can do about it, except smile through clenched teeth. What the Scriptures reveal about envy is even graver: “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice (James 3:16).” The Scriptures also say that “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30).” What, then, can we do about this spiritual ailment which causes disorder, evil practices, and the rotting of one’s own bones?
One thing to examine when we experience envy is whether our treasure is in the wrong places. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).” When we desire and pursue things that will not last, it never satisfies. Rather, we must exercise faith in God and His Word and look to the heavenly realms. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Furthermore, Colossians 3:2-3 commands us, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” When we pursue after things that don’t last, it is no surprise that it leads to envy and consequently disorder, evil practices, and the rotting of our bones. Therefore, we are to look to the heavenly blessings given to those who are in Christ Jesus, which will not fade or fail.
In the final chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is giving Peter his mission and also telling him how his life will end. Jesus concludes by telling Peter, “Follow me (John 21:17-19)!” Almost immediately, Peter turns and sees another disciple following them, and asks Jesus, “Lord, what about him (John 21:20-21)?” Now, Jesus’ response to Peter is key to those who are being caught in the trap of envy. Jesus says to Peter, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me (John 21:22).” Jesus immediately returns to His previous command for Peter. And so also, when we are faced with envy we are to return to the call of obedience to Christ in our lives.
Finally, remember that apart from God’s undue work of grace in your life, calling you to faith and repentance, you would be lost in sin and confined to hell forever. With this Gospel truth, there is no room for envy or boasting. Either you have the fullness of God’s love displayed on the cross, or the fullness of God’s wrath remains on you (John 3:36). Believe these truths not merely as a cure for envy, but for the eternal security and homecoming found in Christ Jesus.