My Problem with Envy

The other day I admitted to a friend that I struggle with covetousness.

“Is that a word?” he asked.

Yes, it is a word, though I still have trouble spelling it. It means envy. It’s the noun form of the verb covet, as in, “Thou shalt not…” Here’s the whole verse straight from the good ol’ King James version complete with Old English words and spelling:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. – Exodus 20:17

Okay – that’s enough snickering…

As I was saying, I have trouble with covetousness, number ten of the Ten Commandments. I break this command regularly. And to God, that’s no laughing matter – as you can tell from this image of Charlton Heston playing Moses in The Ten Commandments.

Charlton Heston as Moses holding up the Ten Commandments

Charlton Heston Doesn't Look Happy

What do I covet?

It’s not my neighbors house I’m interested in. Not his wife. Not his ox, nor his, um… donkey.

Nope, it’s usually not even his BMW (though I admit I really want one). Okay, wait… a black Lamborghini just pulled up to the Starbucks I’m sitting in…

Moving right along…

What do I covet? What makes me envious?

His vacation


Yeah. I want to travel. Lots of places. All over. But I’m basically George Bailey. (That’s Jimmy Stewart’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life, the guy who always had his bags packed but never gets to follow his dream to see the world.)

So, if you and I bump into each other and you tell me about your promotion, or your kid’s full scholarship at Harvard, or that you bought Apple for $20 back in the 90’s. No problem.

Just don’t tell me about your trip to the Mediterranean, or your long weekend on Aruba.

‘Cause then I’ll have to pray. A really difficult prayer.

Actually, I’ll be praying anyway, really. The root of my travel-envy (and sometimes stuff-envy) is so deep-rooted in my heart that I have to make it a point to pray proactively and regularly about it.

The Root of Envy

By the way, you know what the root of my covetousness is?

Dissatisfaction. Discontent with what God has given me.

That’s cold isn’t it?

How could I accuse God of being stingy with me? How can I tell Him He hasn’t provided well for me and my family? I can’t, or I shouldn’t. So, I regularly ask God to forgive my covetousness and make me content with all He has given me and all He has withheld.

My problem with covetousness. Envy. It’s just one more reason I’m thankful for the gospel, the good news that Christ purchased God’s acceptance for me by his very non-covetous life and vicarious death.

Do you ever struggle to be content with the life God has given you?

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4 thoughts on “My Problem with Envy

  1. Pingback: Envy « Smokebear

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