The shapes of my soul’s smallness are many. As I look at the vices in that book, I pretty much can find them all in the back corners and darker rooms of my soul. But, there is one that God has been really working on lately—its name is envy.
This is one of those vices that embarrasses me most because as someone who hates pettiness, this sin unmistakably reeks of it. Yet, it lives in me. And, as De Young writes, “The bottom line for the envious is how they stack up against others, because they measure their self-worth comparatively.” (44) This is so true. Sometimes, when I look at others in admiration, it turns to envy, and I feel comparison’s gong ringing through my soul. It is then that I can cross over into sin’s darkness.
So, I have begun to pray on my knees to fight this darkness when it comes. The prayer I pray is for His glory to abound more and more, especially in others. I ask that His work in them to be great so that He may be glorified even more. As I do, I begin to hunger for His glory above all else, rejoicing in His movement everywhere and in everyone instead of worrying about myself. As John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (3:30)
It is a hard prayer, for my selfishness breathes just as strongly as Eve’s did in her garden. But, as I submit, I am tasting His freedom. It is a posture I am growing in, and I don’t always do it perfectly or as sincerely as I want. Still, it is changing me, nonetheless, this wanting more of God and more for others than myself.
So, when envy comes to call, what will we do? When we see someone more successful at our field in worldly terms, when we see God’s unmistakable voice in another and wish for it in ours, when we see someone who has a more “perfect” family than ours, when we look at those who are the great influencers and wonder about our own place in the world, what response will we have?
I pray you will join me in praying that God will be glorified and abound more and more in everyone we see. And, may we not compare ourselves to others but rejoice in the God-reflection that is in us each. As De Young says, “From a secure sense of God’s love and life-giving power, untainted by the envier’s conditional and comparative lens, we can see the right way to follow Paul’s admonition to ‘in humility regard others as better than yourselves.’” (57)
Matthew records these words from Jesus—“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (16:24-25) As we carry our own crosses and watch others carry theirs, my hope is that we would not tarry over them--how big or small they are, what a wide or narrow road they walk, or if theirs has less splinters than ours. Instead, may we be found simply and faithfully carrying our cross while wholeheartedly encouraging and rejoicing with others as they carry theirs.
And, as our personal kingdoms fall away, our anxious, worried grip of insecurity will loosen. We will, then, be able to revel and rest in the God-ness we find in His people—shouting our joy at His movement in them!! The painful, beautiful practice of humility will lead us into rejoicing at His amazing movement through us all—gasping at the grace of God that He even allows us to be part of His workings here on earth. God, grant us mercy upon mercies to do just this. Hallelujah and hallelujah.