Updated: Jan 31, 2021
Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone (Psalm 73:2 NLT). The psalmist Asaph wrote this. He explained how he almost compromised his purity in the verses that followed: For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such a painless life; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They aren't troubled like other people or plagued with problems like everyone else. They wear pride like a jeweled necklace, and their clothing is woven of cruelty. These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth (Psalm 73:3-9 NLT). Asaph envied the proud—the “fat cats” who have everything their hearts could ever wish for.
Envy is a serious sickness of the soul. It creeps in so subtly, we hardly notice. Men, women, and children are all susceptible. It starts to gnaw away at the heart when we look longingly at someone else’s toy, house, car, family, spiritual gifts (ouch), or possessions of any kind. Very soon, if not cleansed from our heart by the blood of Jesus, envy festers like an inflamed wound, and turns into jealousy.
Stage III envy erupts into full-blown bitterness, and then the trouble really starts, because it oozes out of our heart and infects those closest to us. (Sorry, it’s in the Bible.) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many (Hebrews 12:15 NLT). If envy, jealousy, and bitterness toward someone or something leak out of our mouth, before long those around us will adopt the same ill feelings and fall victim to the sickness also.
As an adult, I’ve tried body planing down a Slip ‘n Slide. Not smart. Anyone over twenty years of age, with bones, should not attempt it. Sliding down a slippery slope is dangerous! Psalm 18:32, 33, 36 encourages us to use God’s help when our footing is slipping into, I don’t know…envy, jealousy, or bitterness of the “fat cats” in our world? God arms me with strength; He has made my way safe. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, leading me safely along the mountain heights… You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.
Here’s how He helps us. Ephesians 4:22-24 (NLT) tells us to throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness — righteous, holy, and true. We “put off” envy, jealousy, and bitterness, and we “put on” the new nature of God in us: L-O-V-E. The next time you’re tempted to slip and slide into the envy black hole, ask the Father to give you HIS love and attitude in the situation. The skid marks will be a mile long as the Lord slams the brakes on that slippery slope of envy, jealousy, and bitterness.
© 2020, Chris Werre