Monday, November 26, 2018

Pretty on the Outside, Rotten on the Inside

It was usually when I felt the most ordinary that I would find myself confused. When I started my first real job out of college with the title of Network Administrator, I was a newlywed, and three months pregnant. Marriage was good, I was expecting, and the pay in my new job was in line with my expectations. Life was good, and it showed on my face. As I walked around the office, I noticed that many had family photos or mementos on their desks. We had just received our wedding proofs, so I had an excess of wedding photos. Seeing that it was a regular practice to have pictures in your personal space, I placed one of my wedding photos in my cubicle.

The job was going well as I started to connect with others. Imagine my surprise when I returned from lunch one day to find that someone had poked out the eyes of myself and my husband using a pin in the wedding photo in my cubicle. It was creepy; it was also mean and malicious. I called my husband, and he too echoed this sentiment. I distinctly remember the pain in his voice as he asked, "Why would anybody do that?" I never found out who committed this act, but I was able to narrow it down to a particular individual.

This was a scarring event, but I was not scarred. It woke me up though, making me realize that there will always be people who are envious of you, for reasons that may never make sense to you. Envy believes that someone has something you cannot have. It is a feeling of discontentment or resentment because of another's success, advantage or superiority, real or perceived. Clearly, the individual saw something in me that she thought was unattainable for herself. But as is the case with envy, it will make you act in ways that are unbecoming. It may even blind you to what you can accomplish. Envy is indeed rottenness of the bones (Proverbs 14:30).

I never felt the envy was warranted. But even if envious actions could be justified, you don't have to let these actions disfigure you. There are many examples of handling envy in the Bible, but two stand out. First, there's Joseph, whose brothers were envious of him. Joseph had a gift - he could interpret dreams. When he told his brothers the interpretation of his dreams, his brothers envied him (Genesis 37:11). Out of this envy, Joseph was abandoned, sold into slavery, imprisoned, and eventually became ruler over Egypt. Due to life circumstances, his brothers were now in a position where they had to unknowingly appeal to Joseph so they could survive. Joseph had the power and the means to make their lives as miserable as they made his. But because of the love of God in his heart, he could honestly say to them, after uncontrollable weeping, "what you meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20)." Joseph felt the pain of their envious actions, but he did not respond in kind.

Then there's Jesus. Pilate recognized that Jesus was arrested because the religious leaders of the day envied Jesus. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”  (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.) Matthew 27:17,18.  Pilate saw "the people's envy, of Jesus' popularity, at his fame and credit, the honor, glory, and applause he had among the people, on account of his doctrine, and miracles, that they had delivered him up into his hands" ( - Gills Exposition). Though Pilate could find no fault in Him, he delivered Jesus to be crucified. Pilate allowed us to see the extent of enviousness - crucifixion, and death. But the envied and reviled can be resurrected, professionally like Joseph and bodily like Jesus.

Envy is indeed rottenness to the bones. When you spend your time focusing on others and not on what God has done for you - it will be the breeding ground for envy. To counter this stinking thinking, realize that you too are made in the image of God, that you are loved by the Creator of this universe, and that this love is all-encompassing and exceeds human love. When you realize that you too are the recipient of this love, it will change you. You will want to spend all of your time basking in His love. Jesus says it like this: "Abide in me" (John 15:4). As you abide, you will change, and you will grow. The talons of envy will slowly be removed from your life. And if you do give in to bitterness,  know that forgiveness is available from God and from the person you offended, but you've got to seek it out.

I'm not superhuman. After the initial hurt of discovering the disfigured photo, I never held any malice towards my co-worker. She was never identified, but as opportunities presented themselves, I did what I could to encourage. I also got wiser from this situation, recognizing that sometimes just by living and doing right, people won't like you. It's OK; they didn't like Jesus either! Jesus is love and love is the cure for envy. Because love is patient, love is kind, and love does not envy (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. Proverbs 23:17

Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:26

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 1 Peter 2:1

Have you discovered the antidote for envy?


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  1. How awful that someone would do that to your picture! You handled that with grace. Visiting from #GraceFulTuesday

  2. Such a wonderful post with much truth. Envy doesn't just show green in the eyes, it shows black in the heart. You are certainly a gracious person. Thanks for sharing! Blessings.

  3. I love the "I got wiser" - so balanced.

  4. That was weird. Proverbs 23:17 is something I have had to deal with, I see so many bad people prosper while good ones lack but I know He gives us grace. It wasn't envy, and God wasn't holding out on me, for such a time as this. People do need to learn not to envy, He blesses at different times and ways, maybe it just wasn't the co workers turn.

  5. That is such an awful thing they did to your photo, but I love your reflections here and the godly way in which you responded.

  6. How weird that someone would do that to a photo. :( Envy is a difficult beast to tame. But it's definitely worth all our efforts and prayers to tame it. Thanks for the encouragement to never let it get the upper hand!

  7. As a Clinical Counselor that action & behavior is rather concerning! But I agree Jesus love is the answer for envy...
    Great post Nylse!
    You're most welcome to drop over & join me in a cuppa,


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