Deep in my heart, there has always been this "need" to be the best. I've wanted to be admired, praised, acknowledged, have all the attention, etc.; it's a battle to keep these desires under control. As I talked about early on in the series, the problem in my heart is that I want to be in God's place; I want people to recognize me. My ego needs you to focus entirely on how great I am ... or at least I need to think I'm the awesome-est.
Dear friends, it is horribly shameful to admit. Only because Jesus has intervened in my life can I let you in on my dirty little secrets. I'm learning that if one does not lay it all out there, he continues to be controlled by impulses and sin that ultimately lead to death. Maybe not immediate death, but certainly misery now and death ultimately. We were talking about this yesterday in Sunday School based on these verses of warning from James 1:13-15
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
DEATH - that is where we're headed when we let our sin continue to grow and take over our lives. But in Christ, we get to turn that death back on itself, because HIS death brings LIFE! As we put to death the sin within us and put on our new self, we are being renewed in knowledge in the image of our Creator. (Colossians 3: 1-10)
Envy and Rotting Bones
A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.
Scripture gets right to the point, doesn't it? James shows us how quickly sin leads to death; we're shaken by King Solomon's description of envy decaying our skeleton.
Death and rotting bones.
It's not pretty.
I don't imagine any of us want to head in that direction intentionally, but how quickly our hearts take us there when we are not on our guard!
Envy has been a way of life for me. When I was young I (in the midst of a perfectly good life with little difficulty) was jealous of my sister's cool clothes and friendships, other girls' really nice handwriting, anyone who won an award when I wasn't getting one (and sometimes even when I was!), kids who got to buy designer clothes, pretty much anything that sounded cool that I didn't get to be a part of or have.
Looking back, I see how deeply rooted my jealousy is in my heart and just how much I needed to be rescued.
My bones were rotting. And they do whenever I let jealousy take root and grow in my heart and mind.
In my adult life I often find envy sneaking in most in my closest relationships: a friend's child is better than mine at some activity or their kid potty trains faster; they always seem to have the right thing to say and I want people to think that I am the one who always has the right thing to say; they seem to have it all together and I which I had their life, husband, finances, etc.
I told you it's not pretty!
The Gospel and Health & Life
When we empty a space in our hearts of sin, we need to fill it up with what God would have us grow there: remove a weed and plant a flower.
Dear Jesus, as we look at the envy in our hearts that is rotting our bones and as we confess to you (and others) it's ugliness and ask your forgiveness, would you free us? In those places, grow in our hearts a desire to love you and love our neighbor. Remind us that you died for those sins and they no longer have permission to have mastery over us. Give us eyes that quickly see our pride and temptation to envy another rather than love and serve them. Help us to hate the sin within us and turn quickly to you for restoration and transformation. We praise you that YOU have already intervened so much in our lives and entrust this yucky part of our hearts into your hands as well. Thank you for giving hope, life, joy, and peace! Thank you for not letting us grow stagnant, but for inviting us to share in YOUR Holiness! Amen.
* * *
Thinking about the envy in our hearts leads smoothly into discussion about discontentment. We'll head that way tomorrow. So glad you're on this journey with me through the dark depths of our sinful hearts, that we might abandon the clamour of self-will, become more wholly God's, and, in turn, more ourselves than ever. Let's rejoice, even in the midst of sorrow at our sin, that the Lord saves us and changes us! I'd love to hear how God is at work in your life in these things; feel free to leave a comment.