Monday, 23 March 2015

The green-eyed monster is sneaky

Love does not envy

This post has been perculating in my mind for a few days. Intially I, somewhat misguidedly, thought that envy wasn't really an issue for me. But the green-eyed monster isn't always obvious. A grumble here, a pang of jealously there and hey presto! You've got yourself a dose of envy.

I realised that a key issue for me at the moment is feeling envious of people who seem to have it all figured out. They're the people who have the next five years of their life planned out, the money and resources to achieve their goals and a heck of a lot of confidence. Meanwhile there's lil' ol' me who decided to major in French and law (nb. Not 'real' law, just an undergraduate course my uni offers) for some unknown reaon and is generally taking things one day at a time and trying not to think too hard about the next few years.

Probably the biggest thing I find myself coveting is the sense of confidence and assurance these people seem to possess. They really do seem to have it all figured out and I don't know how they do it. That little jealous thought of, "Wow, look at them...I wish I was like that. I don't know what I'm doing," seems harmless enough but Paul is pretty clear in his description of love: it does not envy. Not, 'only be envious in these set circumstances' or, 'you really shouldn't but if you have to I guess that's ok.' No, it's black and white: love does not envy.

Therein lies the problem, because I do get envious. So, what can I (we) do about this? Well these little grumblings can become quite habitual and almost ingrained in our thinking. I've found the most useful thing to do, to replace these particularly persistent thoughts, is to respond to them with the truth.

Why is that underlined? I'm glad you asked! It's not just for stylistic flair. If you remember this post, I quoted Jesus saying that he is "the way, the truth and the life." So that's my clever little way of tying the two posts together and reminding you to turn to Jesus for the truth.

I read up a bit on purpose in my Bible because underlying that envy is a sense that I have no purpose, no direction, but 'everyone else' does. However, that's a big, fat lie. I found the passage below quite encouraing:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predetined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8: 28-30)

It may not be the most obvious choice for a passage about purpose (Jeremiah 29:11 springs to mind) but it stuck in my mind. You may have differents passages that you find particularly helpful (if you're keen to share I'd love to hear it in the comments below!).

What I liked about this passage is that God called me, out of all the billions of people in the world, according to his purpose. So God was purposeful in choosing me, it wasn't just 'luck of the draw.' He also "foreknew" and "predestined" this for my life, wanting me to be "conformed to the image of his Son." That in itself gives each and every Christian a purpose: to be conformed in the image of Jesus. So no matter what I end up doing after I finish at uni I will always have a purpose, according to God's plan and intention. That sure makes my envy look foolish.