The Effect of Envy

imageSurely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Psalm 73:1-3 (NIV)

Read: Psalm 73

Consider: Have you ever felt yourself being envious of other people’s success, status, home, or possessions? In Psalm 73 the psalmist is very honest about his discontent with his own lot and being envious of the ‘… prosperity of the wicked’. He has no problem with God being good to the pure in heart, but he has a real problem with the wicked prospering. If we are truthful, this is something that concerns us all. It is in our human nature to think that wicked people should not do well and that good people should do well.

The problem with this thinking is that it is based on our own definitions of what is good or bad. The gospel of grace puts us all in the same category. This is clearly evident in what is said in Romans 3:23 – ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’
The psalmist admits that the apparent prosperity of those he saw as wicked led him to be envious of them. It is as if envy skewed his perspective. Having struggled with the apparent unfairness of it he tries to understand it:
When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. (Psalm 73:16-17)

It is striking that it is only when he returns to God that his perspective changes. We aren’t told if this realisation came as the result of reading or hearing Scripture being read, or through prayer, or direct divine revelation. The mechanism of the revelation isn’t important; what is important is that his view only changes when God is part of the equation. This is the same for us today. The wicked appear to proposer, in fact they often seem to do better than those who are believers. Reconciling this needs us to take our focus off ourselves and put it on to God. When we do this then we realise the short-term benefit that wealth and prosperity might give, but ultimately it gives no security in eternity.

Pray: Father, forgive us when we look around enviously at those who don’t acknowledge you as Lord, yet are prosperous. Give us a true understanding of how they put their security in things that will not last. Amen

Every blessing

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