Can I take a moment and speak honestly? I am at a dry place, spiritually. (And in my writing, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.) This is recent. Like in the last month (as opposed to the writing slump which has been going on for 9 months now). And maybe my spiritual slump has to do with my writing slump. And then it turns into a catch-22.
I love God. Don’t get me wrong. I just feel blah when it comes to praying or having a quiet time.
Why do I tell you this? So you’ll know this post comes from a place of dryness in me. Maybe I started this series six months ago because God knew I would need this one this month. Who knows?
So off we go…
Love is not envious or jealous. Most translations choose one of these two words. So, what do they mean? Of course, we’ve all heard of envy and jealousy, but let’s be clear before we move on.
Jealous, according to dictionary.com is:
- feeling resentment against someone because of another’s success, advantage, etc. characterized by or proceeding from suspicious fears or envious resentment
- inclined to or troubled by suspicions or fears of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc.
- solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something
- Bible. intolerant of unfaithfulness or rivalry
Envy is much like it:
- a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
So why is love not jealous or envious?
I think it has more to do with who you are than what someone owns, who that person is, or what advantages the person has compared to yours.
Are you content with __________ (insert family, job, home, whatever)? Are you always trying to keep up with someone who you think has more?
They might have more, but why? Are they mortgaged so much that they’ll never pay it off? Is their marriage in trouble? Is he or she a workaholic and never home to enjoy the things you are envious of?
And before you answer those questions, remember this: You do NOT know what goes on behind closed doors. You do not know if the “face” they put on for you and everyone else is just that — a face, a mask of prosperity. In fact, they could be about to lose their home and family.
Are you still envious? Do you really have a reason to be?
At one point in my life, I’m sure I felt envy. I don’t remember for sure, but knowing myself, I figure I did.
My dad and mom separated when I was 14. Mom worked hard to provide, but it was difficult. She didn’t have a college education; I’m not even sure she graduated high school. For most of my life, she worked in factories — first, at GE when they still made TVs with picture tubes (LOL), and then at Ford. For a while, she was a seamstress. None of those jobs paid a lot.
We did without a lot of things. I couldn’t do a lot of things because we didn’t have the money. At times, we even went without a telephone. She always made sure I had adequate food and clothes.
But I looked at my friends (you know, the part that I could see), and saw two loving parents, nice clothes, cars to drive, a nice house, etc., etc., etc. I wanted what they had.
I was envious. And I’m sure it came out in how I acted around them. I haven’t asked them, and I don’t know what they would answer, but how could it not?
Now, as then, I have everything I need. Maybe I don’t have the nicest house or the newest car, but I have a family that loves me, a roof over my head, and food in my belly. I don’t need to keep up with my neighbors. Nor do they need to keep up with me.
Paul’s words in Philippians come to mind. Phil. 4:11-12, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (ESV, emphasis mine)
Love means we are happy that other people are able to have what they have, and WE are content with what we have. That doesn’t mean we don’t strive to better ourselves, but we don’t STRIVE for it by any means necessary.
So, how does this apply to me? What is God teaching me today?
I need to be happy for my fellow writers as they have multi-thousand word days, publish multiple books, or experience wondrous sales. I need to LOVE that they are succeeding. Their success does nothing to hinder mine, so there’s no reason to be envious or jealous. I don’t what they had to do to get where they are. I don’t know about their sacrifices or their struggles.
Life is work. It’s hard. It’s not always fair — well, let’s be honest, from our limited perspective, it’s rarely fair. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find the joy of the Lord, no matter our circumstances.
The verse following the above section is one most, if not all, of us know by heart. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Whether in want or in plenty, I can be content.
So what does someone else have that you wish you had? Be honest. It’s okay. We’ve all been there. What you (and I) need to do is GIVE those things to the Lord and work toward contentment and being thankful for that which we DO have.
Luke 16:10, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
Be faithful in the little.
If you haven’t read parts one through five, here are the links: