Thoughts on the Fruit of Jealousy

I think about envy a lot. Envy–with jealousy and covetousness–is probably the sin I have struggled with the most, for the longest, and which has caused the most damage to my life and character. As far as I can see with my limited human vision, at least. It’s something I have been praying about for years, and there are times when it seems I’ve gotten better, and other times when I’ve gotten worse. Even as my self-awareness in this area has grown, sometimes that makes it feel so much worse when I screw up.

“There’s cute-jealous, and then there’s Othello.” ~ Gilmore Girls

If I spend my time and energy wishing I had something other than what I have–the job, home, possessions, intelligence, relationships, or opportunities of someone else–that not only gets me nothing, but it spoils and wastes what I do have.

I don’t have nothing. I receive my gifts from the same Giver (the Father of lights, as it says in James 1:17) as anyone else. If He wanted, He could give me the same gifts, but He has his reasons for doing or not doing so. Then an analogy came to me, because this was my brain after all.

If I receive a pear, and another person has an orange, I could do nothing with my pear and covet the orange. I could complain about the pear, ignore it while I ask God for an orange, question the existence o pears, long for an orange, resent the pear, and even try to pretend that my pear is actually an orange. In the end, all I will have is a rotten pear, because I wasted it wanting an orange.

Cezanne, “Still Life with Apples and Pears”

Wouldn’t it be better to try to enjoy the pear, and make what use of it I can? I can’t turn it into an orange or do anything else that would change the pear itself. But God could give me an orange if He wanted to. He must know that it is best for me to have the pear, at the time and amount that I have it, and that I will make–or have the potential to make–use of the pear better than someone else, and better than I could have done with a different fruit. Maybe an orange would be worse for me in some way I don’t yet know. Maybe the person who has an orange would not make good use of a pear.

Maybe I’ll never completely understand why I have a pear and not an orange. But envy will steal the time I could have spent enjoying the pear–and it still will not get me an orange.

You ask ‘for what’ God wants you. Isn’t the primary answer that He wants you. … Of course, He may have a special job for you: and the certain job is that of becoming more and more His. ~C.S. Lewis, letter to Mary Van Deusen, 25 March 1954

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