Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15 NIV).
Friend to Friend
In that painful season, the “green-eyed monster” of envy was eating me alive. I wept and admitted to my counselor that I was envious that my friends were still married to their husbands while mine walked away. It hurt to watch them enjoy the empty nest season with their spouses while I was starting a new season of life alone.
During that tough time, envy seeped into other areas, too. On social media, I dreaded seeing pictures of couples celebrating anniversaries or vacations. I struggled through weekend church services because I hated seeing couples leaning on each other during worship or holding hands during the sermon. I’d silently cry, God, why not me?
I loved Jesus, but oh boy, I had a nasty case of envy.
We can point our finger at social media, but envy is an insidious spiritual struggle that we can’t blame on anyone else. Envy is sneaky because it has two layers. There’s an outer layer where we can see what we want to have and what we don’t have. But there’s also an inner layer of belief where the green-eyed monster pops out. It’s the place where we’re angry or blame God for what He hasn’t given to us.
Holding onto envy hurts us both spiritually and physically. Listen to the description of envy’s danger in Proverbs 14:30 NIV: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Envy breeds sadness and anger and those emotions are draining on your spirit and body.
Jesus came to earth to show us what God was like. One of those character qualities is empathy. Jesus also experienced everything that we struggle with, even though he never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). So, Jesus understands our envious moments. He also showed us what it looks like to model Today’s Truth to everyone that he encountered.
The opposite of envy is empathy. Today’s Truth is a reminder to show godly empathy toward others regardless of our circumstances. When we live empathetically toward others, we’re living like Jesus.
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it! Envy puts up a blind spot so that you can’t see what’s really happening around you. However, as you provide celebration or support for others, your eyes remain open to the reality that everyone experiences ups and downs in life. As a bonus, when you show empathy over envy, you’re blessed as well. Godly empathy protects your heart from envy’s physical, spiritual and emotional damage because as you see the evidence of God working in others’ lives, you’ll experience a peaceful reassurance that God is taking care of you, too.
For me, letting go of envy also meant opening my eyes to what God has already given me instead of obsessing about what others have.
Look at your own life and notice everything that God has already provided for you up to this moment. Breathing? Check. Clothes? Check. Not starving? Check. Ability to pray? Check. Whether you’re at home or work, look around at what God has already given you. God promised to provide everything you need (Philippians 4:19), so the more that you take time to notice, the more you’ll recognize God’s generosity toward you.
At first, this will be a challenge, but soon you’ll discover that empathy builds a bridge to peace in your life. During and since my divorce, I decided to acknowledge every wedding anniversary in my social media newsfeed. It was hard at first, but as I remember everything that God had already given to me, I chose to pay His generosity to me forward by celebrating others. As I celebrate, I experience the life-giving sense of peace because the God who blessed them is still blessing me, too.
God, it’s really hard when I see others enjoying what I don’t have. Yet, I choose to be intentional about remembering everything that You’ve given to me. I will rejoice with those who have what I don’t have because You’ve lavishly given me way more than I deserve.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Now It’s Your Turn
When and where does envy show up in your life?
How can you celebrate with others who are experiencing what you may not have?
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s content is from Barb’s recent devotional book, Surrendered: 40 Days to Help You Let Go and Live Like Jesus. This 40-day devotional invites you to let go of trying to control others or outcomes and learn how to live like Jesus. Learn how to trust God’s power, presence, promises, and provision for your life so that you experience God’s peace no matter what’s happening in your life.
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