Just as Eve covered up with strategically placed fig leaves after eating the forbidden, you and I (and your hurting friend) cover up too. It's time to drop the fig leaves, girls, and slip into a new wardrobe.
Aristotle said, "Envy is pain at the good fortune of others." It's a nasty, flesh-eating emotion in which one person -- the envier -- desires a possession or trait possessed by another person.
Have you envied? I have.
Chances are your hurting friend has envied too. Here at Counselors' Coach , I give you ideas and insights that help you help others. As you may know I am a biblical counselor who stays atop of the trends; namely e-counseling.
Among today's most insidious evils is discontent. It goes hand in hand with envy. Let's consider three questions:
1. Why do we Christian women envy, especially when it just makes us cranky?
2. How do we stop envying?
3. Once we drop our green-with-envy bikini, what new piece of clothing takes its place?
Before we answer the questions, may I share a story?
When my hubby and I were married two years, we had a great opportunity to buy a cozy cape cod in the perfect neighborhood. At age 24, we became homeowners. The problem was, the house was a pit. Carpenter ants munched the back porch, the roof leaked, a raccoon lived in our attic, and the former owners had three big dogs with tiny bladders. Under the icky carpet were beautiful oak floors and stains galore.
Nonetheless, we were proud homeowners and took care of the back porch, roof, raccoon, and oak floors. Our Cape Cod became cute and cuddly. It was home. But then. . .
On my walks to and from the train station, I eyed the other houses; nicer houses, houses with impeccable landscaping, Better Homes and Gardens beautiful.
I grumbled to God that my home wasn't enough. Had God failed me? Or had I failed to appreciate my blessing?
I wasn't that different from Rachel in the Old Testament. Rachel and Leah were sisters married to the same guy: Jacob. You can read all about them and envy in Genesis 29 and 30. Rachel was "beautiful in form." As far as Leah's looks, no theologian really knows what the phrase "Leah had weak eyes" means. (Genesis 29:17 NIV) Did she have poor eyesight? Were her eyes gentle or delicate in appearance? What we do know is that no matter what Leah's eyes were like, Rachel was beautiful.
You'd think that Leah would envy Rachel. Not so. Instead, Rachel envied Leah. Huh?
Leah bore son after son. In those days, bearing sons was a big deal. Rachel was barren. Desperate, she moaned to Jacob, "Give me children or I'll die" (Genesis 30:1).
Jacob answered, "Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?" (Genesis 30:2). Rachel gave her maidservant to Jacob in hopes that he could bear children through her. This sounds strange to our post-modern ears, but it was the norm back then. Her maidservant bore a child. Rachel had won. Or had she? She had not dealt with her ugly choice to envy.
Rachel wore her envy fig leaves like a bikini.
Who's ultimately in charge?
So when you, I, or your hurting friend envies a neighbor who has a nicer home, car, job, husband, kids, or whatever, aren't we really asking, "God, don't you care enough? Don't you love me enough? Aren't I good enough?"
At the root of envy is fear; typically the fear of rejection. You may think, "God picked her to be on His winning team. Not me. If He picks her and overlooks me, I feel rejected." Is this really true? Does He reject you? You know the answer. God accepts each of us as we are. The praise goes to Jesus, who bore our sins and rose again so that we who believe may become new.
So how do we get rid of envy?
The answer is simple yet difficult to live out. Choose to believe the truth that God is who He says He is. Does God favor my neighbor over me...or the co-worker who got the promotion...or the family whose kid got a college scholarship while mine didn't?
No, God is not like that. He wants the very best for you. Honest. And sometimes the best for you or me is the Cape Cod with the carpenter ants, the leaky roof, and the raccoon.
In addition, we get rid of envy by agreeing with God that it's gotta go. It's a matter of you and me (and your hurting friend) choosing a different attitude. We choose to become more Christ-like in our thinking.
When we drop our envy fig leaves, which new clothing goes into our godly gal wardrobe?
Instead of ruminating over what we don't have, do something nice for someone. It could be as simple as mowing a lawn, opening a door for a mom with toddlers in tow, or calling a family member or friend who lives alone. How about sending a dinner invitation to an elderly neighbor or waving to a crossing guard? It could be a "thank you" to a teacher or writing a note (by hand or by email) to a friend, something to tell her that you care. The options are as plentiful as your imagination permits.
Simple stuff. Meaningful stuff.
As you take your eyes off yourself, you won't envy. It won't be me, me, me.
Let the Holy Spirit who indwells you also guide you. He will. He is the true Counselor. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. He's the one who makes it grow. In Him you are beautiful and brave, valuable and victorious...with or without fig leaves.