Squash Envy: Tell a Better Story

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Envy rears its giant green head exquisitely among siblings on Christmas morning. When the tinsel settles, each kid wants to emerge from the mountain of wrapping paper with the one toy that everyone else envies. Unfortunately, envy doesn’t stay in the closet where we retire our dolls or Legos. It stalks us through life.  

In the following video, Tim Chaddick offers insight into how envy can control us, and what we can do about it. Tim is the founding pastor of Reality LA in Hollywood, California, and author of Better: How Jesus Satisfies the Search for Meaning, where he digs even deeper into the problem of envy.

 Tim raises the concerning truth that envy drives at least some portion of our lives. He points out that the writer of Ecclesiastes goes so far as to say everything we do can be the result of envy. Our desire to excel at work, to build a great ministry, or to have the perfect home life can all ooze out of the comparison game. We want what other people have.

The apostle James points out in his book that envy and jealousy can form the foundation of every evil practice. It may feel innocent, but envy has deadly consequences.

James 3:16 (ESV)

16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How have you seen envy grow from something that appears harmless into something destructive?
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How did Tim’s presentation of envy challenge your view of your own motivations?
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Like cancer, envy can potentially spread to every area of our lives, including our ministries. What are some "at risk" areas of your ministry that envy may try to corrupt?
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Tim provided three ways to deal with envy, and they all revolve around telling ourselves a different story.

  1. Remember grace. When we’re honest, we have to admit that we deserve nothing better than death. The very fact that God has shown us grace and given us life should generate thankfulness, not envy.
  2. Remember the church. When we envy other believers, we undermine the mission of the church. Instead, we should focus on the mission that God gave to the entire organism, the church, and work toward advancing its interests.
  3. Remember the gifts of the Holy Spirit. God, not humans, distributes the gifts that each of us carries. Rather than spend our time bogged down wishing we had what God has given someone else, we need to keep our minds focused on the God who did the giving.

What story do you tell yourself about your gifts and possessions? A story where you deserve more? Or a story that’s focused on the grace of God?
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Crystal is a wife and mother for whom the comparison game began to gnaw on her soul. As you watch her real life story, listen as Crystal discovers the power of God's story of grace in overcoming envy. 

For Crystal, Facebook bred envy in her life. What sources in your life spawn envy?
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Crystal realized that only by spending time alone with God and her Bible could she begin to listen to the better story of grace. Do you spend intentional time reading the Bible's story of grace? If not, why not?
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How would your life change if you consistently reminded yourself of the story of grace? What would your church look like?
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We know the power of envy—it hides behind every Facebook post and around the corner of every church. But Tim has offered us a shield against the comparison game. By remembering God's grace, His church, and His gifts we can overcome envy and proclaim the better story of grace.

If you would like to investigate the issue of envy further, check out Tim Chaddick’s book, Better: How Jesus Satisfies the Search for Meaning here.

Also, check out the Better RightNow Media Bible study, here.