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How to Win Over Envy
Today, I have a story to share where I sort of have to “tell” about myself.
Several years ago, I had the chance to walk with a couple of friends regularly at a local park.
We got in so many great miles walking and talking about life.
My friends were always great fun and super encouraging. It was just a really sweet time in my life.
However, during that season of walking together, my husband and I were in the middle of a challenging time financially.
Being in full-time ministry, there can be some very hard financial moments.
During this Season
And during this particular season, both of our children were in college and our finances were super tight.
For a good part of two years, we shared two cars with 4 adult drivers… all going in different directions.
So, often, I did not have a car to drive.
One of my walking friends would typically have to pick me up and drive me with her to the park so we could walk.
It was a fun and crazy and very humbling season in our lives.
One Particular Day Stands Out
There’s one particular day during that season that stands out in my mind.
It was a gorgeous day, and we were enjoying a wonderful 3-mile hike through the woods.
However, at a certain point in our walk, the conversation got extremely HARD for me.
Truly, my friends had no idea how much we were struggling financially at that point.
And I don’t believe they were trying to be rude or careless.
Instead, they were just talking about their lives and what was going on.
They were talking about getting their nails done at a nail salon.
Then, they begin to talk about decorating their homes and their second homes. They both had been able to purchase lake houses.
(Just so you know, my friends are both incredibly generous people, and God has blessed them greatly.)
However, here’s the challenge: when you are not a person of means and your friends are, you are bound to have some of these situations.
On That Day – I Was Learning How to Win Over Envy
On that day, the three of us were walking side by side, and I was right in the middle of the two of them.
As they chatted about homes, decorations, and the things they were spending money on, I got so frustrated on the inside.
Truly, I began to struggle internally.
Moreover, I couldn’t contribute to the conversation; I had nothing to add.
And in that moment, I faced an age-old challenge.
I faced the challenge of envy.
Envy Struck Hard!
For just a few moments on that day, I wanted what my friends had.
Envy is just wanting what other people have that we don’t have.
And on that day and on that walk, I wanted to go get my nails done.
Then I wanted to go purchase a lake house. And decorate it.
And, perhaps add a boat or two.
For the second half of that walk, I had an inner battle that my friends knew nothing about.
- I felt sad.
- And mad.
- I felt jealous.
- I felt left out.
They had no idea that I was feeling all of these things.
But as I was dropped off by my friend and walked through my front door, I had to deal with some crazy emotions.
I had to talk about my jealousy and my envy with God.
Those next few minutes were hard, but I believe God gave me some incredible insights into how He works.
And I’d like to share those simple insights with you on How to Win Over Envy.
Because you see, I think ALL OF US have the opportunity to get jealous.
All of us face moments where we’re envious. All of us have seasons in our lives where we want the things that someone else has.
It’s human nature.
So, let’s focus on how to win over envy in our lives.
Here are three ways to Win over Envy.
These are three perspectives that God has given me over the years that have helped me to not get so jealous.
Because we’re still in full-time ministry and someone’s always going to have more.
The Bible says in First Corinthians 13:4, “Love does not envy.”
We talked about love being patient and love being kind, and now we’re going to think about some things love is not.
Love does not envy.
Love does not covet what others have.
And, love does not lose its mind getting jealous over what someone else has that we want!
So… How can we better handle that old green-eyed monster of jealousy when it rises?
We all have to face it.
It will keep coming at us.
We can’t avoid every single interaction in life that might cause this or tempt or lure us into envy.
However, we can get ready and be prepared and better handle the emotions that will come.
Here are three (3) ways to tame jealousy and win over envy when it comes to calling on your life.
FIRST: (And this one’s kind of tough.) Learn to be content where you are with what you have today.
Learn to be content.
Philippians 4:11-13 puts it this way.
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.
I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Ask God to help you to learn to love your life – right now! (And help you win over envy.)
Ask Him to give you great joy in your present circumstance, whatever it may be.
Until we learn to live in and like our now, nothing else will satisfy.
To be content is to be OK with where we are and what we have.
Let me give you an example of how you can do this.
I read about a lady who hated her apartment. She had old appliances and dingy walls and SHAG carpet.
For the longest time, she was miserable.
And then one day, she felt the Lord impress on her heart to thank Him for all that she had. She began to walk around her apartment and thank the Lord that she had appliances.
Then, she thanked the Lord that she had furniture.
She thanked God for giving her a warm bed to sleep in at night.
- For running water.
- For electricity.
- And for a safe place to live.
- For food to eat.
Her attitude didn’t change overnight, but she said that very slowly she began to appreciate what she had INSTEAD OF always wishing for something that she didn’t have.
She became content with her little dingy out-of-date apartment until it became a place that she loved again.
- It was hers.
- She was comfortable.
- God had taken care of her.
I don’t know what you’re wanting today that you don’t have.
But you can learn to be OK with where you are and what you have right now.
Pastor Adrian Rogers once said,
“Don’t thank God by feeling, thank Him by faith.”
SECOND – Here’s the second thing you can do to win over envy.
Realize that God has you PLACED exactly where He wants you to be right now.
God is taking care of you. And, God has been good to you and me. He is being good to us.
One of my favorite authors is a lady named Elizabeth Elliott.
She was a missionary whose husband was killed on the mission field, and she continued to stay and minister to the very people who killed her husband.
In one her one of her books, she talks about the idea that God maintains our lot. Our God always takes care of us.
This idea that she shares comes from Psalm 16:5:
“O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.
You guard all that is mine.“
Here is the idea of How to Win Over Envy:
Realize… God takes care of us as He sees fit.
Truly, He gives us what He believes we need.
Often, we question Him because we see what someone else has.
But that’s not our issue. Our issue is to take what comes from God’s hands with grace and gratefulness.
He will take care of us. He is taking care of us.
Do you and I believe that?
Even when it may not look like it or feel like it?
Let Me Share a Personal Example
Years ago, we had the opportunity to spend 7 1/2 years in an apartment community.
It was seminary housing for the school where my husband is a professor.
There were times during those 7 1/2 years, that I was ready to be out of that apartment.
Each time I walked around the gated area.
Each time I drove into the apartment complex.
As I was going to other people’s homes and yards and pools and places.
Sometimes I really didn’t feel like God was taking very good care of us.
And yet God kept us there for 7 1/2 years.
- We were a safe–gated community.
- We were comfortable.
- We had low bills to pay.
- We didn’t have to worry about a yard to take care of.
- When something broke, we could call the maintenance staff.
- The apartment was located in a very convenient part of town.
The Best Years
All in all, I can look back and tell you that those were actually some of the best years in our family’s life.
They were some of the best years in our marriage.
In addition, they were some of the best years for our kids.
Would we have chosen for us to live in an apartment with our children all of those years.?
But God always knows what is best for us!
He knows what’s best for my life. And he knows what’s best for your life.
It may not always look like it and feel like it, but we can trust our God.
Pastor Adrian Rogers puts it this way –
“Faith is not so much receiving from God what we want but accepting from God what He gives.
Faith is believing God in spite of appearances.”
What Causes You to Envy?
I’m not sure what may cause you to envy today, but I know there can be all kinds of reasons for all kinds of women.
- You may be single and wish you were married.
- You may be married and wish you could get out of that marriage.
- You may be hoping to have a baby or have more children.
- Or, you may be really struggling with the children God has given you.
- Your envy may come over something to do with how beautiful someone else is, or skinny someone else is.
- Your envy may be over someone who’s getting to take lots of trips or go to lots of amazing places.
- Or, you may even be envious of someone’s home, car, or job.
We are all tempted at times to want WHAT WE THINK looks better in someone else’s life.
If we can begin to thank God and accept where He has us, we can find victory over envy.
I’ve got one more tip for you. This is idea #3.
THREE – Remember… The reality is this – there are always two sides to that record.
I’m about to date myself. But…
Do you remember those little records we would get as kids and teens?
They were black and had a large hole in the middle.
We called them “45’s.”
On the front side – the A side would be a hit song. It’s why you bought that little 45 records.
But on the other side would be the “B Roll” or “Side B.”
It was typically a song that no one knew, and nobody cared about.
I remember loving the song by Donny Osmond called, “Go Away, Little Girl.”
I played it over and over on my 45-record player.
Honestly, I have no idea what was on the other side of that record. I never turned it over and I never played it.
But I sure loved the side with, “Go Away, Little Girl.”
And… Life is kind of like that.
We usually only see “Side A” of most people’s lives.
But often we don’t have the opportunity to flip over the little record and see what’s on the other side of the album–on “Side B.”
All of us have a side that everyone sees, and all of us have a “Side B” that nobody sees.
Due to the craziness of social media and our visual Internet world. We typically only see “Side A” in people’s lives.
But everybody has a “Side B.”
And often “Side B” is hard.
Let me give you a great example of “Side B.”
This is a recent example.
I have a precious friend that I went to college with. We reconnected on social media and have the opportunity to text each other.
She’s a committed Christian, and she married her college sweetheart. They have three grown children and all these beautiful grandchildren.
And if you look at a family picture of these people, they are all beautiful, accomplished, and amazing people.
Her husband is a very successful businessmana nd they’ve done well financially.
In fact, she’s often taking trips to her beach house.
Not too long ago, I found myself facing a little bit of (quite honestly) envy.
I would look at her posts on social media, and I’d think:
“Wow, her life looks so good.
I’d like to have that beach house.
I’d like to start having some of those weddings and grandbabies.”
This little twinge of jealousy would come over me because I found myself wanting some of the things that she had that I did not have!
The Envy Trigger – How to Win Over Envy
I think we have all been there… facing the trigger for envy.
It’s just that little bloom.
The beginning is just a small bud. Just a little bitty opening where we find ourselves thinking…
“I’d like to have that.”
For just a short season, I found myself a little jealous of my beautiful college friend.
“Side A” of her little record was just stunning.
And then I got a text message from her that, like, smacked me across the face.
It was “Side B.“
Her “Side B“
For you see my beautiful college friend with all that wealth and success in those beautiful families and those grandbabies and weddings and all the gorgeous things that she’s experienced over the last few years… was having a HUGE life crisis.
Doctors discovered that she had breast cancer and would immediately need a total mastectomy.
I WAS SHOCKED!
But I was also so quickly reminded that no one gets through this life without both sides of the record.
Often, we only see the pretty side.
But everyone has a hard side and a challenging side and a cancer side and its discouragement side and a difficulty side.
So next time you’re looking on Facebook and you begin to feel that little twinge of envy.
Remember that everyone has got some stuff in their lives that hurt, keeps them up at night, and challenges them to the core.
It’s not all roses.
It’s not all sunny skies and rainbows and butterflies.
As We Close on How to Win Over Envy
Listen, I don’t know if you’ve been able to relate to what I’ve shared today.
But I felt like God wanted me to share this and be really honest with you today.
We all are going to have opportunities like I did on that walk with my friends… to feel those pangs of missing out.
There are always going to be people who have more and better and prettier and skinnier and smarter and more successful than we do.
There are going to be times when we don’t think life is fair.
But our love doesn’t have to be envious.
We can learn to love other people with grace and and goodness.
Honestly, I want to be able to follow the words of that Romans 12:15 which says,
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
I want to unselfishly love other people and not be envious of what they have.
So, let me review those three simple steps for us on how to win over envy.
These are things we can do when tempted to envy.
First, we can pray and ask God to help us to learn to love the life that we have right now.
We can be grateful that we’re safe and comfortable and we have food and clothes and electricity.
And we can learn to be OK in our skin, in our world, and in our lives today.
Second, we can really come to believe that God will take care of us and give us what’s best for us.
We can trust that God has a perfect plan for our lives and that He will maintain what is ours.
Pastor Adrian Rogers puts it this way –
“Faith is not so much receiving from God what we want but accepting from God what He gives.”
Third, we can seek to remember there is a flip side to everybody’s life.
There’s a “Side A” and a “Side B,” and all of us have the good and the bad.
And remember that just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean that their life is just perfect.
Somehow it helps to be reminded that we all have the happy and the sad.
No one gets through this life unscathed!
When you and I feel the first little pangs of envy or jealousy coming on… let’s talk to God about it!
Just go ahead and talk it all over with Him.
You will feel better, and He is always willing to step in and help.
Remember the lines from “What a Friend We Have in Jesus?”
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
So, let’s do that.
Let’s take all of our envies and jealousies to the Lord in prayer!
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