We should be careful to not be envious of others. I think one of the most damaging forms of this is people-envy. Whether it is simply the number of friends someone has, or the fact that they are in a committed relationship and you are not, or maybe they have children and you don’t, when we become envious of someone else’s personal life in regards to people, we can easily become bitter. This is not what God wants for you. God has given to each person according to what they can handle, and what He wants them to have. Knowing and trusting this truth can help you navigate some perilous waters.
Sure, it doesn’t seem fair when some people have 15 children and you can’t seem to conceive one child. And nothing seems more unfair than when a person who is a horrible mother can have children like they are going out of style while a Godly nurturing mother cannot have a baby of her own. But we need to remember that God does not work off of a system of ‘evenness.’ He works off of what will bring Him the most glory.
God does not form us with a glorified cookie-cutter. That is painful when we see someone who seems to be doing better in a department of life we care about. You may see your friends getting married right and left… even the dysfunctional ones who are poisonous in relationships. And there you stand, holding their bouquet. You’ve attended more birthdays for other kids than you can remember, but you want to throw one for your own child… but wait… you aren’t even married yet. This is where the enemy cranks up the attack.
Satan wants us to believe that we automatically deserve what others have, and that is how God works. But have you noticed that he never plays that game with people who are not doing as well? How often do you walk through your local children’s hospital wishing you could trade places with those parents? The fact is, we don’t see the pain that goes with even the best of situations. God gives grace with the sorrows. But we tend to focus only on the blessings. And this is the point. We should be focusing on what God has given us, being thankful for that.
Your life could change in a minute. The Bible is full of stories of people who were barren but became pregnant against all odds. It isn’t just about God’s ability. It is about His timing. Either way, we should be pursuing God and not what we want Him to give us. Even in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, His closest friends got caught up in envy. In fact, Jesus answered this whole idea of personal envy in a conversation with one of His disciples.
One day as Jesus was telling the apostle Peter that life would become very difficult for him, and he would end up dying a similar death to the one Jesus would die, “Peter turned around and saw the disciple (John). When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord—what about him?’ ‘If I want him to remain until I come,’ Jesus answered, ‘what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.’” (John 21:20-22) Jesus wasn’t saying that John wouldn’t die. He was saying that whatever God does with other people is His business… not ours. We spend way too much time worried about what others have and don’t have, and too little time being content and obedient.
The message from Christ to you is, “What is it to you if others have what you want? Follow Me.” I’ve found that it is much easier to follow Jesus if we aren’t looking around at everyone else. I can wonder why other people have more talent, or greater impact than I do, or I can just serve God with what I have been given and watch Him bless my life. He made me. He knows best how to get the most glory out of my life. Trust Him today with what He has given you, and do not spend good energy wishing for someone else’s blessings.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.