There was once a little girl who was given a Christmas gift. It was her only gift and it wasn’t extravagant; it was a small bicycle without any extra frills or gadgets. But oh how she loved that bicycle! She would ride it to visit her neighborhood friends and she would ride it around in circles on the pavement. When it got dirt and mud caked on the tires, she would be vigilant to wash it thoroughly.
Nearby, there lived a little boy who received many gifts that Christmas; but none of them brought him joy like that bike brought to his neighbor. He would hear her laugh with glee as she rode the bicycle to other houses and even just around in circles. Finally, he had enough and wanted to experience the same joy… He watched from his window and waited until she and the bike were separated. At the right moment, he went outside, hopped on the bike, and took off down the road. There were no frills or flowers and the bike handled nicely; not much different from the ones he owned, though a bit less flashy. But it was very fast! He questioned the skill and courage of the girl next door. She settled for short, slow paced rides around her home when this could do so much more!
He sped up as he approached an intersection; seeing there was oncoming traffic, he felt for the handbrakes. There weren’t any. He backpedaled, hoping for brakes. Nothing. He couldn’t stop; and instead of joy, he felt only regret.
The moral of this fictional story illustrates this principle: When we act upon our jealousy, we rob others of their joy and invite destruction into our own lives.
Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but jealousy rots the bones.”
This central principle is echoed throughout scripture. As it is with God’s other commands, His ways bring about our good and our disobedience brings about destruction.
I have often witnessed my bones “rotting” when I fail to be content and trusting. I find depression an easier destination when my eyes are drawn towards the paths of others.
Solomon writes clearly that a heart that is envious or jealous is not at peace. So with a culture that encourages envy and promotes self-centered living, why must we be different in this?
Here are 3 simple thoughts based on the above:
1. Peace is found in contentment.
The heart at peace is found in a person who is thankful for the blessings of God and does not take up their time with obsessing over the things they do not have.
2. Peace gives life, while envy takes it.
When I am content with what I have, my striving towards doing good work is not to “beat” or “keep up” with anyone. A healthy work ethic should not be lessened by contentment, rather it is strengthened because my focus is not divided and my attention is on my own work and not the successes and failures of others.
3. Peace refreshes dry bones.
Do you find yourself worn out? And when those times come are you tempted to say, “well so-and-so doesn’t have this problem.”
Ultimately, we don’t know the struggles others are facing and even if we are in a more difficult situation, we should turn our inward focused envy into outward focused joy. By that, I mean that the longer we spend time stressing over what others have and we don’t, we are literally sapping the life and strength out of our own lives.
The peace that comes from the Lord flows naturally out of a heart that is content, thankful, outward focused, and free of all malice, envy, strife, and jealousy.