The Sideways Glance

A vacation begins with planning that many times only considers ideal situations and circumstances. Bags are packed, car loaded, and the kids are crammed in. The gps is set, the plan is on go and…

We drove away at dusk on the familiar route of winding Highway 7. By the time we reached the small community of Jasper we were in a valley surrounded by the Ozark mountains. Night had fallen and there was the peaceful sound of a steady rain. A dense fog settled in the valley that forced us to travel a little slower. And then, just beyond the quaint little town square, traffic came to a halt. We could see bright lights ahead and at the edge of the arch-shaped bridge, a road crew was repairing a pothole about the size of my car. There was no detour, no exit. I glanced past the line of cars, and on the other side of the repair work there were cars freely traveling. Those individuals were not held up by a man wearing a hard hat and vest. Their plans were not altered by a handheld stop sign. Frustration and animosity intensify toward the faceless strangers when we choose to look at the advantages of others. Envy is that kind of sideways glance. It mixes self-pity, covetousness, self-centeredness with desire and a boundless imagination. Worshiping our plans and ourselves results in resentment when results don’t follow through. Dissatisfied with our own situation, we look around at the lives of others and add the sin of envy.

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? - Prov 27:4

Envy has wormed its way into our culture, communities, churches, and homes. It is a mingling of desire with resentment that another person is enjoying life and you are not. Envy is fueled by reality shows dripping in extravagance, TikTok dance videos of bff moms in yoga pants, and reels featuring luxurious homes that take center stage when simply checking social media. The irrationality of envy has taken over and its result is upside-down values. Jealousy is rooted in a desire for what I don’t have. It is sourced in a desire for what others do have. It looks much like control. No sin is unique to today’s culture, as Paul taught:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. - 1 Corinthians 10:13

What do you desperately hope for? We need to recognize what envy looks like, its roots, and the cure. If we dwell on if only, we are searching. If only can not only seem justified but typically is by our peers: The world tells us we deserve all good things and if we aren’t careful, we quickly believe the message. Envy lacks satisfaction in God. It is often driven by what I think I deserve and what I must have or else. The sideways glance of envy is where we lose focus. Don’t fix your gaze on those around you.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, - Titus 3:3-5a

Envy is a sin of pride. Acknowledging pride should send us to confession and repentance. Forgiveness is given by God’s grace in Christ Jesus. Then, broaden your view – Grasp a worldview where you compare yourself to people worldwide. Many are struggling to simply survive. Look around at all God has given you and intentionally change your attitude to one of gratitude. In gratitude we see what God has given as sufficient. Gratitude refers to the ability to show thanks for the things you have and the things you’re grateful for. It helps you gain proper perspective by recognizing all the blessings in your life and makes it easier to focus on the positive.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thess 5:16-18

For further study read Psalm 37 and 73.

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