August 23, 2017
A Forgotten Cause of Conflict
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30
The song “Satisfied Mind” includes this verse: “The wealthiest person is a pauper at times compared to the man with a satisfied mind.” Envy, on the other hand, brings a poverty of the spirit. Often disguised as ambition and a motive for hard work, envy is a disease of the soul that “makes the bones rot.” It disrupts our tranquility and tempts us to compromise our values and violate our conscience.
Scripture shows that it is a cause of conflict. It was out of envy that the Jews handed Jesus over to Pilate. Envy of the wicked who seem to go unpunished tempts us to join them. The desire to acquire money by any means has led many to abandon their morality, betray their neighbor and neglect their families. It gives birth to worry and faithlessness when we compare our finances, health, beauty, strength, assets, popularity, etc. to those of others. Envy creates a false standard for success based on comparison rather than on contentment with God’s gifts.
On a societal level, it causes much strife, unrest, and violence. It can work into the human heart so much anger and bitterness that people lose their minds and behave in unreasonable ways. One author even pointed out that for him it was a major factor in the confusion about his gender identity and behavior. It is the opposite of love and faith.
Have you lost peace, sleep, contentment, and faith because of envy? The cure is the peace of God that the world cannot give, which is beyond our understanding. Paul invites us to bring all our needs in prayer to God through Christ Jesus, with thanksgiving, so that we may know that peace. (Phil.4) Faith that operates in such a prayer brings contentment. It trusts God that we do not need to fret when the wicked prosper, or feel that God has abandoned us because we don’t have it as good as others. Contentment, a “satisfied mind”, is the greatest wealth we can have.
Jesus empowers us to be satisfied because He has filled our greatest need: acceptance by God. His death and resurrection brought peace between the human race and the divine Judge. He answered the underlying fear of death and abandonment that creates such strife in our soul and pushes us to want and fight for more. There is no peace possible until that peace comes from God through Jesus Christ. When we can say with the hymn writer, “It is well with my soul” envy will vanish.
May it be well with your soul and may you have the gift of a satisfied mind.