So I’m sat in local pub here in the small village of Hurst where I live writing a book about commitment to God’s purpose and prayer. In walk some shiny looking individuals, young and vibrant, and order bottles of wine and a slap up lunch. Friends soon spontaneously join them and the mirth ensues.
So does that creeping discontent and disconnect from the rich life I’m learning to live in Christ and the siren call back down to earth. Ballast bags of envy have a horrible habit of dragging us along the ground looking at the seeming prosperity others enjoy and the ease with which they conduct their existence.
It’s odd and can catch us unawares.
Why climb in the confessional like this?
Because jealously is the stock in trade of the world we now inhabit.
Not only are the bright-and-brilliant paraded as the mark to shoot for, but the grim rubbing of normal noses in their apparent mediocrity is also skilfully leveraged to motivate thoughts and actions we would never otherwise consider.
Our Father laid out only ten explicit commandments worthy of etching in stone, and one of them slammed this tendency head-on!
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17 NKJV)
Dude? Why would I want another donkey? I have so many donkey’s piled up in my own life already. So many blessings to thank God for it’s almost criminal when contrasted to the terrors some on the earth are facing every day.
What is it about human nature that tends so heavily to discontent and fails to appreciate the real riches that no money can buy?
I’m learning to be thankful for the Holy Ghost spotlight shining on the cracks in my character and pulling the pus to the surface. Sounds horrible I know, and quite honestly it is. But, as my mum so sagely says, “better out than in.”
Pondering this quizzical comparison game I find myself caught in sometimes I brought the above story to the table of prayer, looking for a remedy.
The picture I saw was of a man, a glass man being filled with water. The sediment that had settled in his stationary life was being pushed up and out the fuller he became.
“My love casts out fear,” explained the Holy Ghost.
The answer is not to perform an internal witch-hunt for all of those less than sanctified areas that drag our buoyant spirits down, it is to be filled to overflowing with the presence of the real treasure – God’s presence.
How beautiful to rise above the froth, bubble, and swirling confusions of the lower life, and sit to get perspective in the presence of the one who is high and lifted up. Worship lifts us above the fray and clears our vision to see.
One of my favorite Psalms is Asaph’s wonderfully vulnerable petition in Psalm 73:
“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked… Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.” (Psalm 73:1–20 KJV)
In no way do I want to imply that prosperity is for the wicked alone. God prospers His people and takes great delight in doing so. But the narrow eyes of envy can afflict even those who are part of the few percenters on the planet who have an over abundance. I dare that includes both the one writing this, and most likely the one reading.
The point I want to make is this. Just one word…
Until I went into the sanctuary.
How profound these words.
Perspectives change in the sanctuary. Eye salve is copiously dispensed in the secret place.
Instead of looking with envious eyes craving another ass to add to our crowded stable, we get caught by the beauty of the King.
“Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” (Isaiah 33:17 KJV)
There is land very close, stuffed and pushed to our eyes and ears begging our attention. A land so immediate, full of empty glamour and passing riches.
And there is a land very far off, flowing with milk and honey, whose trees heal the nations, and whose sidewalks are paved with finest gold.
All of the false glamour of this present age cannot shake a stick at the riches that Christ Jesus so freely offers. But we need to make regular visits to the sanctuary to keep the pipes clean and our eyes on eternity.
You can keep your donkey.
As an aside, one of the first children’s books I wrote and published tackled the green-eyed monster. If you want a sweet read with your kids grab a copy on Amazon