Monday, November 24, 2014

Envy Schmenvy


We've just finished a lovely, happy little series about the seven deadlies.  Coulda, woulda, shoulda written about each of them in turn as I struggle relatively with each.  I am a person, after all.

In case they're unfamiliar to you, and to clarify what I just said:

  • Pride, yep
  • Anger, sure
  • Sloth, undeniably
  • Greed, shoes
  • Lust, shoes
  • Gluttony, shoes

Count 'em.  This piece is all about the last one, the one with which I (air-quotes) never struggle.

And the shoe thing ~ that's really not a joke.


This morning, as Pastor-man started up, I was thinking, "pish."  At some point, however, he said, "Maybe not so much with the others, but with envy, you recognize it (within yourself) right away."  There!  There was the joke.

We're all pretty familiar with what envy is, right?  I mean, in plain language, by today's standards, envy is to be jealous of what somebody else has, right?

  • She has a bigger house, a better figure, a nicer car
  • She has more friends, more vacations, more shoes

Yeah, those things don't typically get at me.

But don't get me wrong.  Don't misread me.  Don't think I'm being prideful*.
Right off this morning, I was thinking that I traded my fair share of envy for extra helpings of gluttony and lust (and also addiction and strife and family dysfunction. You know, things for which most other folks would most assuredly Not be envious.)

Typically, though.  I know better than to leave it at typically.


As Jeremy (aka Pastor-man) worked through a sort of bullet-pointed-ness about what envy does in a life, I sought to find the source of it in my own.  I started to make notes.  I started to know that I would write on the topic.  And then I started to just know.

Of all the arts, of all the manifestations of creativity - and I love and want a hand in (nearly) all of them - writing is where I would have liked to sign my name. Coulda, woulda, shoulda been a writer of any ilk, genre, or venue.

And this is painful and embarrassing to say, but I feel a little sad, a little disappointed, and a little envious when I see other people writing with great success.

I promise that my envy doesn't last, especially when I see good words making a powerful difference.  It's just that, well, durn.
I wanted that.

And the bullet point is that I do, in fact, have envy.**

But Jeremy used this passage

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’" Matthew 20:13-15

to remind me that, well, God can assign talents however He chooses and that what I signed up for was to make the most of what has been divvied to me.  As long as I'm doing my best to do as He directs me - which might include writing stuff that nobody ever reads - well, then what else could I want that matters?

A bigger house, a better figure, a nicer car?
More friends, more vacations, more shoes?

The world around me certainly seems to think that these things matter.  The world around me says to get more, have more, want more of what everybody else has. This, supposedly, is the good life.

But, as with writing or shoes or any other thing, I've found myself quite miserable when all I can think about is what I wanted that I didn't get.  Or what somebody else has that I don't.  Conversely, when I give what I've got, I'm really rather content.  As Jeremy proposed, the real and lasting good life almost certainly has more to do with giving than with getting.

If I consider myself in light of the Parable of the Vineyard Workers, then where I once had naught to do, I now get to work in the vineyard.  Thank the Lord for vineyard work.


I have work to do and a sense of purpose ~ "success" or no "success".  What else could I possibly want? He has promised me that I shall want for nothing.  (See Psalm 23.)

Want for nothing.

Let me be clear here on two last points:

1) The plain and low-down, dirty truth is that I don't always have that sense of purpose.  I mean I don't really know if I'm supposed to write this stuff down or not. (Among other things I sometimes don't know.) I am a person, after all.  This seems to me like an important point to make since maybe some folks are envious of other folks' sense of purpose.  You get me?

2) But what makes the difference, what holds it all together, what is always there even when my sense of purpose or contentedness may wane ~ is Jesus.


Give what you've got to Jesus.
Just that.
Just start with that.

*Though there's a certain measure of pridefulness shown even in our lists of troubles sometimes, eh?
**Making absolutely no claims here that this is my only source or manifestation of envy.  It's just what's obvious to me at this time.

Link HERE  for the Niceville United Methodist Church SEVEN series videos and podcasts.

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