Instead of focusing so much on what we don’t have and what didn’t happen, we can be grateful for what we do have. This doesn’t come naturally to me, probably not for you either, and not even for the apostle Paul, who said, “I have learned to be content.” Being content is a learning process.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 4:7-8, “Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need” (The Message).
Envy is based on the myth that you need more to be happy. Envy always looks at others and asks, “Why them? Why did they deserve it? I deserve what they have.” But gratitude says, “Why me? Why did God give me this? I’m blessed because I don’t deserve what I have.” It totally flips our perspective.
Although we all struggle with envy, it’s hard to admit it because it’s such an ugly emotion. When you’re envious of others, you really want them to fail, because it makes you feel better that they don’t have more than you. That’s pretty crazy, isn’t it? If we could only learn to be grateful for what we have, we could begin to get rid of these feelings of envy.
It’s important to understand that envy is not having a desire or a dream or a goal. It’s good to have those. Envy is not looking forward to something or hoping that something can happen in your life or even wondering if you should have some thing. Envy is instead resenting somebody who already has what you desire or has reached a goal you have yet to obtain. Envy says you can’t be happy until you get that desire or goal. Envy is not being grateful for what you already have.
Yet the Bible tells us that we already have more than we need and far more than we deserve. Every good thing in our lives is a gift from God, and it is up to him to decide when and how he blesses us. It’s up to us to choose to be grateful and make the most of what we’ve been given.
As Ecclesiastes 6:9 says, “It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else” (GNT).
- Pastor Rick Warren