Like the Hulk, I’ve turned green. While he turned green from rage and gamma radiation, I have turned green from envy.
This past weekend, in seemingly every other country but the one in which I live, The Avengers was released. The movie made almost $180 million around the world, breaking records in many foreign markets. And while I very much love the United States and feel blessed to live here, I can’t help but feel a little envious.
Envy is one of the ugliest emotions we experience.
In his book Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley describes envy in terms of debt. When it comes to envy we carry around the idea that God owes us. We see what everybody else has that we want and we think that God owes us.
I’m just as good as that person.
I do just as much as that person.
I deserve to see The Avengers as much as Malaysia.
When we allow envy to creep into our hearts it affects our vision. We see everything that we have and it’s suddenly not enough. We see everything that everyone else has and we think we deserve it. And since God is ultimately in control, he’s the one we blame for not having everything for which we envy. Envy then eats away at our hearts until we’re disappointed in what we have and angry over what we don’t.
Being green with envy is definitely more dangerous than being green like the Hulk.
If we want to avoid that danger, then we need to root envy out of our lives. Envy grows when we think we deserve more than we have. So digging out envy means recognizing that we’ve been blessed beyond what we deserve.
I don’t deserve the loving home in which I was raised.
I don’t deserve the beautiful wife to whom I’m married.
I don’t deserve the opportunity to work at an amazing church.
I don’t deserve the opportunity to enter back into a right relationship with God.
When we acknowledge all the undeserved blessings in our lives it’s a lot more difficult to focus on the apples of our envious eyes. When we look at everything God has given us it’s hard to blame him for everything he hasn’t.
We should strive to have the attitude of Paul who, in Philippians 4, wrote that he’d learned what it meant to be content in plenty and in want. Contentment covers envy and will keep us from Hulking out when we don’t get what we want.
What helps you stay content and keep envy at bay?