“…The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast” (Genesis 4:4-5, NIV 2011).
My colleague received recognition this week at a regional medical society for his humanitarian work. Rather than feeling fully joyful at his recognition, I felt a bit sour about the whole thing. Certainly, I was happy he received his award, but I was also hurt that it was not I who was receiving it. My work among the underserved had been ongoing for many years without notice. As he accepted his award with spoken humility, I somehow felt cheated.
What is this thing called envy?
After all, we are doctors, or almost so. Ninety percent of the world envies our resources and opportunities. And yet, there is always more. Others get it and we want it: notoriety, money, experiences, peace. Why?
When I see this in myself, I guess I should call it what it is---sin.
Envy is one of the big ones, big enough for God to write it in stone for Moses (Exodus 20:17).
I want stuff for myself that God did not plan for me. When others receive it, I feel cheated that it is not my own. This envy is part of the natural life that God is saving me from through the blood of Christ. And I’m not always helping Him.
There are a number of ways I can help “work out my salvation” from envy.
I can surrender all that I truly desire to God’s control.
When my envy is related to notoriety, I can seek unappreciated service.
I can seek to provide for others that which I most want for myself---and watch God change me as I do.
And I can gradually replace the desire for that which I envy with a desire for Jesus.
St. Augustine prayed, “O, that I may find my rest and peace in you. O, that you may come into my life and so inebriate me that I might forget my own evils and cling to my one and only good that is you.”
Please wipe this sin completely out of my life. Replace it with a great desire for you.