Pastor Craig Groeschell says that, The fastest way to kill something special is to compare it to something else.
At no other point in history than right now has there ever been so much opportunity to compare ourselves to others. It’s mainly because of this blessing and burden culture calls: social media.
My ability to compare myself to others is so quick so because of social media. With one login I can see what “amazing” day everyone else is having, compared to how I am feeling at that moment.
You log-on and see your friends out to lunch and you’re like, “Why wasn’t I invited?”
You see pictures of people on their 4th vacation this year and you’re like, “I can’t even afford to go on a stay-cation. What are they doing on vacation number 4?”
And then there’s that classic picture of when your friend is on vacation and they’re sitting by the beach and they take a picture of their feet and the book they’re reading and they post it for all to see and you look at the picture and you’re like, “You know what, I hate those feet and I hate that book and I hate that beach.”
Envy: an evil, bitter emotion that easily rises up out of us at any moment.
A verse in the New Testament says this:
We’re not putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they’re our superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
Meaning, it’s straight up ridiculous for you to compare yourself to others, and then based on that comparison, to decide if you are good enough.
We cannot faithfully follow Jesus if we’re always comparing ourselves to someone other than Jesus.
We’re fighting for our parents to notice us more than our siblings. We’re begging our friends or the opposite sex to notice us over others. We want our teachers and professors to see how smart and clever we are over other students. We want our boss and our co-workers to notice our our ideas successes. We want those who follow us on social media to see the great life we’re living.
And it will never make us complete.
To rid envy of your life, Jesus’ opinion of you has to matter more than anyone else’s. Pleasing Him has to matter more than pleasing anyone else.
The reason why envy is damaging is when we compare ourselves to someone else, we either feel superior or we feel inferior.
Those aren’t godly emotions.
Feeling better than someone or feeling worse than someone does not honor God (nor does it satisfy).
We look at someone and they’re not as put together or as seemingly strong and we think they don’t work as hard as we do or they’re not as likable as we are, not as smart. We think God has blessed us, not them. (We don’t say those things, but we feel them.) We feel superior.
When we feel inferior is when we struggle with envy and jealousy. You look on instagram and someone else’s husband got them flowers or someone else’s kids made them breakfast in bed or someone else has a date or someone else got married or someone else got pregnant, again, or someone else got a promotion, someone else got to travel. We feel less than based on looking at instagram.
We go from instagram to insta-grumpy.
Pastor Andy Stanley says, Our problem is we just want to live in the Land of “Er”.
We want to be rich-er, fast-er, bett-er, pretti-er, young-er.
And after we lived in the land of ER, we want to live in the land of “est”. Rich-est, prettiest, smartest, retweeted-est.
But neither being in the land of “Er”, or in the last of “Est”, neither feeling superior or inferior can satisfy the deep longing of our soul, nor do they enable us to live the life we were created to live.
When the green monster of envy starts rising up in me or seeping out of me, there are a few things I do to help me focus on Jesus and stay in my lane. You can do these too.
Choose to Take a Social Media Fast
Every now and then you should take a break from social media. Some of you will go through the shakes, but it’s good to fast.
If one of the first things you do in the morning is look at facebook or instagram, you are setting yourself to have thoughts of, “I don’t have what they have”.
I would suggest taking 3-5 days off. 40 straight days would be amazing, but at least choose a handful of days where you can recenter and pray and focus on Jesus and what He’s blessed you with.
Start and Keep a Gratitude Journal
Another thing I do is I write down what I am grateful for.
This is a family practice. Before family dinner at night we talk about what we are grateful for that we experienced in our day. It calms our hearts after a day of being tempted to think we aren’t that good enough of a spouse, parent, child, student, worker when compared to others. We state aloud what we are sincerely grateful for.
In addition, I have a running journal, and so does each member of my family, where we’ve written down what we am grateful for. When I am feeling envious or less-than, I go back and look through it and pray through thanking God for the things I’ve written down, even the trials. And when someone in my family is feeling envious or less-than, we get our their gratitude journal and look through what God has blessed us with.
It’s very healthy to list all the things God has given you in your life rather than assuming how much God has given everyone else in their lives that you don’t have.
One more practice that has helped me suffocate envy in my life:
Genuinely Celebrate the Success of Others
I have found that if I have someone in my life who pushes my buttons easily, aggravates me, or I’m jealous of them for whatever reason – when I choose to celebrate them, all of those negative feelings toward them go away. Plus, I get to encourage them, which is a godly action.
These things help me stay in my lane, keeping my focus on Jesus, not on the person to the left or right of me. If we’re going to compare our life to anyone, let’s make it Jesus’ and if we’re going to have an emotion toward anyone, let’s make it love, not envy.
Thanks for reading. You are loved.