The Insanity Of Envy


God is a satisfying portion. This world may fill a man, but can never satisfy him. Most have too much, but no one has enough. — Swinnock

Sometimes I struggle with envy. What?s insane about that is I have so much – a great wife, children and grandchildren. ?I get to preach God?s word to a wonderful, responsive church and work with the best pastoral team that exists. ?God has allowed me to write some songs that have blessed others. He?s granted me years of health.

Despite all this, I?ve envied the gifts and success of others. ?Once when I shared with some pastors that I?d envied another man?s preaching one guy said, ?But Mark, you probably receive more encouragement than anyone else I know.? ?Owwww.

In Psalm 73, Asaph confesses how envy almost undid him:

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (2-3)

The wicked appeared to enjoy unadulterated, problem-free bliss.

They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. (5)

Asaph saw them arrogantly strut about mocking God yet growing richer. ?As he envied, he spiraled downward. Until he considered things from God?s perspective.

Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end. (17)

?I discerned their end.? ?This world?s riches vanish at death. ?All we enjoy here is a wisp, a breeze, soon gone. ?In God?s mercy, the Psalmist realized the secret of contentment:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (25-26)

Envy springs from seeking satisfaction in anything but Christ. Contentment grows when God is our portion. So contemplate the end of the wicked. ?Confess your envy. ?Ask Jesus to be your satisfying portion. ?And thank God for saving, forgiving, and adopting you and making you a joint-heir with Christ, crowned with every spiritual blessing.

photo by wackystuff

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  • Julian says:

    Great post, Mark. Truth I consistently need to be reminded of. Just last week I listened to a message entitled "The Quest for Contentment" by Dave Harvey, which is along a similar vein. Seeking satisfaction apart from the finished work of my Saviour and, as you point out, the final justice of God, will always lead to frustration, and envy, as you point out.

    Here's the link to the message by Dave Harvey if anyone is interested:

  • lisa says:

    Thanks, Mark! This is really good. It can be tough too, when GODLY people are blessed in ways that we are not. I read a quote somewhere (can't remember it verbatim) about how it's easier to weep with those who weep than it is to rejoice with those who rejoice. It takes God's grace (for me, anyway) to be able to be truly happy for a friend who is enjoying a season of prosperity when we are in the midst of trials. When we're able to do this, it shows that we're really trusting God and his wisdom and sovereignty. (BTW, I'm pretty sure my dad has that "Jealous Moon" sheet music. It looks familiar. How crazy is that?)

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Exactly, Lisa. I am more tempted to be envious of Christians and their gifts and blessings than I am of non-Christians.

    That would be pretty crazy if your dad had that sheet music!

  • Bogdan Kipko says:

    "Envy springs from seeking satisfaction in anything but Christ. Contentment grows when God is our portion." Wow — how very true! Thank you for the reminder!

    BTW, at this years Resolved conference, it was cool to see your name as one of the authors of the song (s) ? we sang — thank you for serving the body of Christ in this way!

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks so much Bogdan!

  • Henry says:

    A satisfying message in a fittingly spare and efficient manner. Thanks.

  • "Owwww." – I feel your pain.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks Henry, appreciate it.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    You mean there's more like me?

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Thanks Julian!

    You have a great name btw – it's my dad's name.

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