Kindness vs. Envy

January 25, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Ephesians 4:20-22, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Psalm 73:2-9, 21-26

Ephesians 4

20 But you didn’t learn that sort of thing from Christ. 21 Since you really listened to him and you were taught how the truth is in Jesus, 22 change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful desires.

1 Corinthians 13

4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5 it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.

Psalm 73

2 But me? My feet had almost stumbled;
my steps had nearly slipped
3 because I envied the arrogant;
I observed how the wicked are well off:
4 They suffer no pain;
their bodies are fit and strong.
5 They are never in trouble;
they aren’t weighed down like other people.
6 That’s why they wear arrogance like a necklace,
why violence covers them like clothes.
7 Their eyes bulge out from eating so well;
their hearts overflow with delusions.
8 They scoff and talk so cruel;
from their privileged positions
they plan oppression.
9 Their mouths dare to speak against heaven!
Their tongues roam the earth!

21 When my heart was bitter,
when I was all cut up inside,
22 I was stupid and ignorant.
I acted like nothing but an animal toward you.
23 But I was still always with you!
You held my strong hand!
24 You have guided me with your advice;
later you will receive me with glory.
25 Do I have anyone else in heaven?
There’s nothing on earth I desire except you.
26 My body and my heart fail,
but God is my heart’s rock and my share forever.

Reflection Questions

Envy is about wanting someone else’s “stuff,” or even the life they have. Thomas Aquinas reportedly said envy grieves any time a good thing happens to our neighbor. Psalm 73 said envy distorted reality (the wicked have no problems?—verses 4-5), and nearly led to spiritual ruin. Tech can magnify envy, with constant ads for the newest phone, earphones, or touchscreen (whether you’ll use the newest features or not). 1 Corinthians 13 said agape “isn’t jealous,” a searching spiritual challenge.

  • Humorist H. L. Mencken reportedly said (an exact source is hard to find) something like “in America, contentment is making $10 a month more than your brother-in-law.” In Psalm 73, it was “the prosperity of the wicked” that nearly destroyed faith in God. But envy can even strike when we look at other believers (see Mark 10:35-41). Whose prospects, possessions, or position do you envy? If you examine the thoughts behind the envy, are they accurate?
  • 1 Corinthians 13 also said love doesn’t brag or seek its own advantage. Have you ever wished that other people would envy something about you or your life? Might a desire to produce envy in others ever tempt you to brag (maybe in an “aw, shucks” humble way)? Psalm 23:1 in the King James Version said, “I shall not want.” Modern versions use phrases like, “I have all I need,” or “I lack nothing.” How often can you honestly say you feel that you have all you need?
Prayer

O God, thank you for valuing me, even when I struggle to value myself. Give me contentment in being the person you’ve made me to be, and in serving you and others with the gifts and talents I have. Then help me love my neighbor as I love myself. Amen.

© 2022 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

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Shannon Starek

Shannon Starek serves as the Director of Discipleship at Resurrection Downtown. She loves to travel and has been to 49 states, 11 countries and lived in Vancouver, Canada for grad school! When not gallivanting all over the world, she lives in Liberty with her husband, Aaron, and two sons, Owen and Porter.

From Every Moment Holy by Douglas Kaine McKelvey…

A Liturgy For Those Who Covet The Latest Technology

Content my soul in you, O Christ,
who alone are sufficient to my longings.

When my heart is beset by wheedling desire
for what it does not have,
remind me, sweet Jesus, that I have no right
to a thing, simply because it exists.
The perpetual allure of new innovation
does not negate the call to faithfully steward
those resources you have temporarily
entrusted to my keeping.

Guard my heart therefore against idols
of silicon and circuitry enticing
with slick-veneered promises of
a more sophisticated and upgraded lifestyle.

Content my soul in you, O Christ,
who alone are sufficient to my longings.
In such moments of technological temptation,
when I might justify to myself the reasonableness
of a costly purchase, speak louder, O Lord,
than the voice of my self-serving thoughts.
If there is no real need for, or true wisdom in,
the purchase of a new technology, service, or application,
then let me be content with fewer options,
slower speeds, smaller memory,
less diversion, less gadgetry.
Let me be content, O Lord, with what I truly need
to accomplish the necessary tasks before me.

Nay, let me to content with nothing but thee.
O Christ who alone art sufficient to my longings,
I would be your trusted servant,
at liberty to employ and to enjoy all things at my disposal,
without being owned by any of them –
using technologies to further good ends,
while never seeking them as ends in themselves.
For it is not the advance of digital platforms
that will usher in your kingdom,
but the work of your Spirit in the world,
and in the hearts and lives of your people.

Content my soul therefore in you, O Christ,
who alone are sufficient to my longings.
Amen