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Envy rots the bones

June 8, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:30)

There are few activities that are as dangerous to my spirit as looking at the websites of other churches. Far from being a neutral exercise, this endeavor typically ends with either despair, as I compare myself and our church and feel inadequate, or disdain, as I smugly criticize what I am seeing. Lord, have mercy.

The Proverbs are full of insightful and thought-provoking one-liners. In Proverbs 14:30, the writer tells us that “a heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” The Oxford Dictionary defines envy as “a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck.” Envy rots the bones, bringing despair, self-condemnation, bitterness, and a general lack of contentment with one’s lot in life. Even if 90% of the world would trade place with you in a heartbeat, when envy controls your heart, all you can see is what you don’t have.

As a pastor, I am continually striving to walk faithfully to what God has called me to. I want to be a man of faith and integrity, loving the people of my church and leading well. Like Peter stepping out onto the water, as long as my eyes are on Jesus, I’m good. But as soon as I take my eyes off of him and put them on another church or pastor, I start to sink.

The truth is that I am the only husband my wife has, the only father my children have, and the only pastor this church has. It does not matter what other people are doing or how successfully or unsuccessfully they are doing it. What matters is how faithful I am being in the situation God has placed me.

Near the end of John’s gospel, Peter is talking to the risen Jesus, and when he sees another disciple nearby, Peter asks Jesus what will happen to him in the future. Jesus replies, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22). In other words, another’s journey is not your concern. Each one of us is responsible for how we follow Jesus.  

Can I encourage you to confess your envy to the Lord today? Admit to Him all the ways that you allow your heart to become discontented by the journey He has called you to. And then ask Him to give you the peace that comes from fixing your eyes on Him and walking after Him in faithfulness.

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