A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. – Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)
One morning years ago I gave each of our dogs, Bobby and Charlie, a big, juicy venison bone before I sat down for my devotions.
“There,” I thought smugly as they settled on the living room carpet about six feet from each other, “that’ll keep them quiet and occupied for awhile.”
I sank onto the love seat and opened my Bible to the day’s meditation. After a few minutes, Bobby got up, dropped his bone on the carpet at my feet, and stood over Charlie until she let go of hers. Quickly, he snapped it up and scooted behind the love seat. Charlie was too surprised to growl.
I didn’t want a dogfight in the middle of my living room, so I picked up Bobby’s bone and gave it to Charlie. It wasn’t long before Bobby sneaked out from behind the love seat and, once again, snatched the bone Charlie was chomping on. I took the bone Bobby had left and dropped it in front of Charlie. Catching on to Bobby’s thievery, Charlie left the bone I gave her and went after Bobby’s.
On and on the swapping went, each dog acting as though the other had the better bone. What I thought would make for peace instead became a source of envy and caused trouble.
I, too, battle envy. I try to stifle envy when I speak with retired friends who have the time and money to do things my husband and I can’t do because he can’t retire yet. After I’ve visited with someone who has plush new carpeting, it seems as though mine has gotten shabbier overnight. And it’s all too easy to find fault with those who I feel are smarter, thinner, or more talented than I am.
Nine of the Ten Commandments deal with our actions; the tenth deals with our inner desires: “You must not be envious of your neighbor’s house, or want to sleep with his wife, or want to own his slaves, oxen, donkeys, or anything else he has” (Exodus 20:17 LB).
Like an acid, envy eats away at my peace of mind, my inner joy and contentment, and my relationships with others. No wonder God tells us to rid ourselves of envy (1 Peter 2:1). He knows what I’m still learning: that love, not envy, is the better bone.
When I feel that tug of envy on my heart, O Lord, help me to be satisfied with what I have, for everything I have is a gift from You. Amen.
(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.