Tag Archives: envy

Dumb As An Ox (Psalm 73)

In our economy, we have come to believe that good should be rewarded, and bad should be punished. Even in some Christian circles, it’s believed that obedience should result in material blessings and disobedience should result in suffering. Sounds logical.

Even David struggled with his own sense of fair-play. When David looked at the success of people who had rejected God, he went as far as to say:

Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. (vs 13)

The old pity party raises its ugly head. Been there. Done that.

But David comes to his senses and said something that made me not only laugh out loud, it got me thinking. Look at what he says in verses 21-22:

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.

Yes, God, when I find myself jealous of the prosperity of people who don’t give you a thought, I’m being ridiculous. I’m as dumb as an ox, as silly as a goose.

The truth is, those people who reject God, yet seem to have it all, are on a slippery slope, heading for destruction, and they don’t even know it. What looks like success and happiness is, at best, temporary. And probably, most likely, it is a smoke screen for what is going on within. Money, and things, are not what we were created for.

On the other hand, I have God Himself! It is God who holds me, gives me direction, and blesses me in ways the world cannot understand. And I am heading toward eternity with God in a place too wonderful for words.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (vv 25-26)



Psalms 73-78; It’s Worth It

Have you ever watched an awards show on TV, or read the news about a million dollar athlete who beat his wife, or sat back and watched that dishonest coworker get all the promotions, while you struggle to make ends meet? You think, “They have it all, and they blatantly deny God. Why do I bother?”

The psalmist was thinking along those lines in Psalm 73. He admitted he almost lost his way, “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (vs 3)

Then in verse 13 he adds, “Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.

Is he right? Are we who love and obey God foolishly living meaningless lives?

The psalmist says that was exactly what he was thinking “till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” When the psalmist turned his eyes toward heaven, he recognized the truth; that this life is temporary. Another life is ahead.

Psalm 78 recounts the ways God worked in the lives of the children of Israel; how He blessed their obedience, punished their disobedience, and forgave them every time they repented.

He (God) remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.” (78:39)

That describes your life, too. Life on Earth is just a passing breeze, and once it’s passed, there is no coming back. No do-overs. This is your moment to decide your eternity.

Is your neighbor’s bank account that important in light of eternity? I guarantee when you stand before God, He’s not going to ask you about your neighbor.

Many people seem to want the good life, with no health problems, to have without earning, or to get ahead at all cost. They measure their happiness or success according to the things they have. You know them, health and wealth are their goals.

I’ve heard the question asked: “What good is it to live the good life, to accumulate things, and die a peaceful death, if death ushers you into a painful eternity, void of any goodness, light, or hope?

I encourage you to read these psalms today and let them remind you that God is a just judge. Your impatience to see wicked people get what you think they deserve is God’s patience while He works in their hearts for eternity’s sake. It’s never about the things, or the success, or what you perceive as their happiness. It’s about a loving God who died for them and wants to call them His own.

Take your eyes off people. Quit telling God how You think He ought to be handling wicked people. Throw off jealousy. Those things are robbing you of the peace and joy that God wants to give you as His child. It’s robbing you of a right relationship with your Savior, with our loving God who is anxious to welcome you home to an eternity that is so much better than anything– ANYTHING — this world can offer.

Trust Him. It’s worth it.

June 10 – Is This Sandbox All There Is?

Proverbs 22-24

The little boy doesn’t want to stop playing in his sandbox, so he ignores his mommy when she calls. He wants to play with the neighbor kids instead of taking a bath in the middle of the day. So when his mom picks him up to carry him inside, he kicks and screams. “No! I want to play. Why can’t I play?”

The mommy puts him in the warm bath and begins to wash her little boy, but he sobs. He slaps her arm away. Then, when she smacks his bottom, he pouts. He pouts as she dries him off, and puts his new clothes on him. Brand new jeans, and a new t-shirt with his favorite Ninja Turtle on the front. But he still pouts, arms crossed tightly in front of him.

The mommy scolds him. He pouts. She tries speaking softly, soothingly, lovingly. She hugs him. He still pouts. She buckles him into the carseat and he begins to cry. “I wanna play in my sandbox,” he says over and over.

“We’re going to Grandma’s house,” the mommy says. The little boy loves going to Grandma’s. But he stubbornly says, “No! It’s not fair. I wanna play.”

When they arrive at their destination, the mommy has to pull his arms away from in front of the boy where they are still tightly crossed. She runs her fingers through his still-damp hair, and straightens his shirt.

Taking his hand firmly in hers, they walk into Grandma’s house.

“Surprise!” he hears. He sees colorful balloons and streamers, presents and cupcakes. His cousins and friends are there, laughing and welcoming him. They begin to sing, “Happy Birthday.”

The little boy looks at his mommy standing beside him with a huge smile on her face. “It’s all for you,” she says.

The sandbox is forgotten. Let the party begin.

Solomon tells us not to envy what other people have. He assures us God has something better for us who are His children. The thing is, we only see our world in the space of a sandbox. God has a much bigger view of our lives.

So when Solomon tells us the humble will receive a reward of riches, honor, and life, we might think that means we’ll get a bigger sandbox, and get to play in it longer. When Solomon says generous people will be blessed, we think that means we’ll get a raise so we can buy more toys to play with in our sandbox.

Solomon tells us not to envy sinners because the reality is, they have no hope. You see, God is getting us ready for the party He’s got planned for each one of us.

We might see it as unfair that we don’t have the state-of-the-art sandbox our neighbor has. We can’t imagine there is anything better than having that sandbox. But God sees way beyond that sandbox.

We might feel the sting of his discipline. But sometimes He has to smack our bottom to get us ready. We might pout or complain or question. But God wants to take us firmly by the hand and get us to what He knows is ahead.

And what is ahead is so much better than a bigger boat, or a better job, or fame, or even health.

In my example of the little boy, it would have been so much easier on him if he’d gone without a fight. And that’s how I want to make my own journey to where God is taking me. I don’t want to fight Him, or question Him, or demand anything from Him. I want to put my hand in His and let Him lead me.

Because I believe that where He leads is so much better than this sandbox I’m living in right now.

May 7 – I’m Quite The Bowler

2 Samuel 7, I Chronicles 17

Years ago I was having lunch with several co-workers in the teacher’s lounge of the school where we taught. One of our fellow teachers walked in a little late, and quietly sat on the couch instead of at the table with the rest of us. The look on her face told us her morning had not gone well.

The night before, I had read an article in our local newspaper about this woman’s husband bowling his second perfect game of the year. It was a nice article, and included a picture of him that took up almost half a page.

So I said, “That was a nice write-up in the paper about (John). He’s quite the bowler, isn’t he?”

She glared at me and replied, “I’M quite the bowler!” She gathered her things and abruptly left the lounge.

King David wanted to build a temple for God. It was a passionate desire. But God had other plans. He told David that another king, David’s son, would have that privilege instead.

What was David’s reaction? He was excited for his son. He gave thanks to God. He didn’t express a hint of jealousy or disappointment.

It’s really not human nature to sit back and let someone else get noticed for something you know you can do at least as well. Maybe you complete a project at work, and your boss takes the credit. Or you witness faithfully to your neighbor, only to have someone else pray with her to accept the Lord.

Maybe you sat first chair clarinet every year from eighth grade through college, only to have your dad tell you how talented your sister is. (Sorry, Kathy, for all those years of resentment. The truth is you ARE a talented woman. I am so proud of you, and love being your big sister.)

I think having David’s attitude is much more pleasing to God than mine or my co-worker’s attitudes were. Don’t waste time being jealous of anyone for any reason. Jealousy is a sin, and it keeps us from the joyful relationship God wants us to have with Him.

I’ve come to realize that the only praise I want to hear is God, seeing me wearing the righteousness of His Son, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Jan 13 – Why Bother?

Job 35-37

Have you ever wondered why you bother being a Christian? I mean, you go to church every Sunday, maybe even teach a SS class, give sacrificially with every pay check. You don’t drink or swear. You’re honest and kind.

Then you go to the doctor and hear the “C” word. Or you lose your job when the company down-sizes. Your neighbor, who makes fun of your Christianity drives a new BMW, and your clunker needs new tires.

You might think about making choices to give in to temptation, to get drunk, have an affair, sleep in on Sunday. There, God. Take that.

Elihu, in Job 35 asks: if you sin, do you take anything away from God? And if you are righteous, do you add something to God?

We’ve got to remember God is above us, God never changes, and most of the time God’s ways are not our ways. Your obedience doesn’t make God stronger or wiser or better. And your disobedience doesn’t make Him weaker. Satan would have us look at circumstances, or our neighbor. Satan would have us envy what we do not have, and blame God for our not having it.

If you serve God in order to get what you want – don’t bother. You’re not going to change God with your obedience or disobedience. But God can – and wants to – change you. Maybe not your circumstance. You.

And that’s why I bother to be a Christian. I like the way God has changed me. As a Christian I have a relationship with this unchanging, all powerful, ever present God of mine. I can live my life with confidence that whatever happens, I have the God of Creation right here living in me. And this awesome God wants to bless me with Himself every minute of every day.

Let my neighbor have his BMW. Give me Jesus.

Living Hell

Sometimes it’s hard to look at the success of ungodly people and not be a little jealous. You struggle to pay your bills but your neighbor who cheats on his wife gets a promotion and buys the boat you’ve been dreaming about. You see public figures in million dollar homes who openly defy God’s laws and speak against Christians. You find yourself wondering how that can be fair when many of God’s people are hurting.

Years ago I was sitting in the living room of a man who was sharing his long list of woes with our EE team. He was fighting a couple of serious diseases, had been abandoned by his family, lost his job and insurance, and said that he figured he was living as close to hell as he’d ever be. Our EE leader reached over, touched his arm, and gently replied that without Christ his life, as awful as it is, would be the closest thing to heaven he would ever experience.

This life is not all there is. Eternity follows. And we are reminded in Proverbs 24:19-20 that evil people have no future. People who reject the Lord have no hope. Their eternity will consist of unimaginable anguish, regret, loneliness, sorrow. They will realize what their choice to exclude God from their lives truly means – for ever.

So don’t fall for Satan’s trick to get your eyes off the prize. If you are jealous of the success of ungodly people you are looking in the wrong direction.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in his wonderful face;

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

June 3

Proverbs 22:1-24:22

Have you ever been bitten by the green-eyed monster? You see your neighbor, who is vocal about his dislike for Christians, drive up in his new luxury car while you are praying you can coax one more year out of your 2000 SUV. Or that guy at work keeps getting promoted and you know he spends his weekends in a bottle and you catch him lying to the bosses. Here you are, working like crazy, living a life set apart to honor God and you keep getting overlooked when promotions are given. 

Proverbs 23:17-18 says: Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

You know that “do not envy” is another of God’s top ten commandments, don’t you? There is a reason for that. Envy, like any sin, eats away at our joy, our peace and contentment. It causes us to doubt God and drives a wedge between us and the Lord. The more we feed it, the bigger and more destructive it gets. 

Remember that everything that happens in this life is intended to draw all people to God. He is not willing that that neighbor or co-worker should perish and we don’t know what God is using in their lives to draw them to himself. It might be that car or that promotion. 

Is God opening a door for you to talk with your neighbor about his new car? Does God want your neighbor to see Jesus in you? Does God want to use you to represent him in your workplace whether or not you get a promotion? If we allow jealousy to enter our lives we cannot do what God wants us to, intends for us to do.

Father God, it’s kind of hard sometimes to watch a sinful world get ahead while we who follow you struggle. It’s tempting to want what they have, to join in their fun, or cut corners to get ahead. God help us who love you to be zealous for the fear of the Lord. To be the people you intend for us to be, to allow you to use us to reveal you to our world, and to be thankful for the privilege no matter what our circumstance. Our future, our hope is in you.