Don’t Envy the Wicked
I recently wrote about how comparison kills friendships within the Church. But what about when our hearts envy those outside of the Body? Should we handle it the same way? Is it okay to envy nonbelievers?
Both psalmists, Asaph and David, walked through some of the feelings we may have when we’re tempted to envy those who don’t serve Christ. And boy did they leave behind some major wisdom in their words for us to apply to our hearts today.
Always at Ease
Asaph starts us off with words that pull on my heart strings.
For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. (Psalm 73:3-5 ESV)
Have you ever felt that way? You stare at your seemingly empty hands and look up to see those who spurn God’s name receiving what you want. I have. There are times when our lives are filled with pain as we watch nonbelievers walk happily in their sin. They seem to be, “always at ease, ” while we are suffering. Bitterness takes root, and we begin to say with Asaph,
All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. (Psalm 73:13-14 ESV)
If God loves his children, why does he sometimes withhold from us what he gives to children of wrath? This question captivates our mind, as our hearts grow resentful toward God and ignorant to the truth. (Psalm 73:21-22). This is why David warns us to, “fret not” and, “be not envious” multiple times in Psalm 37.
Because the truth is, no earthly blessing could compare with what the Children of God inherit. Nothing compares to Christ.
Discerning Their End
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. (Psalm 73:16-17 ESV)
It can be difficult for our futile minds to comprehend the ways of the Lord. Asaph acknowledges the weariness of the endeavor to do so. But then the Lord reminded him of the end of those who don’t love God.
So, what is their, “end”? We see in Psalm 73 that God lifts up the prideful to slippery places so that they fall to ruin. He plans to destroy them. (Psalm 73:18-19). The Young’s Literal Translation says God even despises their image. (vs. 20). David reminds us of the end of the wicked in Psalm 37 as well. There we find that they will fade like the grass, shall be cut off and will perish. (Psalm 37:2, 9, 20).
This knowledge should move us from envy to great compassion for the lost. They may have an abundance here on earth, but all of that will fade, and they will be left with nothing but eternal damnation, away from the presence of God.
Oh friends, why on earth would we envy them?
He is Our Portion
We have been given a treasure more beautiful than anything this world has to offer–one that will never fade or be stolen from us. (Romans 8:35-39). We have salvation in Jesus and all that is his. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places! (Ephesians 1:3-14).
We must dwell on this treasure, learning to desire Jesus more than any earthly thing. Only then will we be equipped to have compassion for the lost rather than envy. Because the truth of our inheritance will be so ingrained in our hearts, we will know that we have something much more precious–that those other things aren’t worth fretting over.
Let us learn to trust in the Lord, befriend faithfulness, delight in him, commit our way to him, and be still before him. (Psalm 37:3-7). When we trust and treasure him, we will become truly mindful of the gift he’s given us in himself. He is our portion and the only one who satisfies our souls. (Psalm 73:26). We need nothing and no one else.
For What Would You Trade Him?
Tell me friend, would you trade him for a child, for a relationship, for many vacations? Would you trade him for money, a bigger house, beauty or fame?
All that you desire could never come close to the preciousness and beauty of Jesus. No husband, baby, or amount of money could compare with the riches found in Christ.
Furthermore, without knowledge of him, all earthly gifts lose their value. Only when we can see those gifts as arrows pointing us to deeper love and worship of him, will we cherish them correctly. And only when we truly recognize Jesus for the treasure he is, will we be able to put off envy and put on gratefulness in any circumstance.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else has, because we have Jesus, and he is all our hearts need. He is MORE than enough.
Comparison Killed The Friendship
I’ve been learning a lot about the art of rejoicing with others lately. And I’m learning it as I walk through a painful loss in my own life. As I watch friends and family receive what was taken from me, temptation weighs heavy upon my shoulders. It’s a temptation most of us wrestle with and many of us give in to.
I recently wrote about how comparison is really just a glorified word for envy. Comparison comes from a covetous heart. It’s a heart that says, “I want what she has.” or, “Why didn’t God give me that too?”
And it’s damaging to a friendship.
Why Not Me?
At some point in every friendship, there will be one gal who receives what the other has been dreaming of. Whether its a husband, a baby, another baby or an opportunity you want, she has it, and you don’t. And it’s hard.
Our hearts naturally curve toward envy. When this happens, something rises up within us (sin perhaps?) that makes us feel as though God has been unjust–that he’s slighted us in some way. If our friend got what we want, don’t we deserve it too?
Unfortunately, the bible isn’t too keen on our envious thoughts…
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV, emphasis mine)
Furthermore, no, we don’t deserve anything good from God because we are totally depraved. (Romans 3:11-12).
In order to put off envy and truly be happy for our friends, we must have a correct theology of God’s goodness and sovereignty over our lives. We must develop a trust in him that runs so deep into our being, it causes us to recognize that what God gives and what he withholds is his ultimate best for our lives.
If your friend receives that positive pregnancy test after your miscarriage, that is his goodness to you both.
If your friend receives a diamond ring at 22, while you look at your bare finger and yet another year of singleness, that is his goodness to you both.
We will never move past the temptation to compare our lives with others until we have a solid trust in our good Father who always chooses the best way and the best gifts–even the ones that don’t look so good to us.
READ: Reconciling God’s Goodness With Our Suffering
Rejoicing With Your Sisters
It takes strength that is not our own to rejoice with a friend in her receiving of what we want or what has been taken from us. Thankfully, the strength we need is found in Christ, and he longs to transform us by his power into women who can truly rejoice over the gifts of another.
He enables us to have true joy in our hearts for our friend even as our hearts are breaking.
He doesn’t call us to pretend we aren’t hurting. He draws us near, and asks us to bring our sorrow, grief, weariness and confusion to him. And then to simultaneously be overjoyed for the gifts he’s given others. And we can do this, by his grace.
There’s Much At Stake
In my group of friends at church, I am one of two couples who haven’t had children yet. This didn’t use to bother me, until I lost our baby through miscarriage. Now, the emptiness of not only my womb, but my arms as well, have become a burden I bear every Sunday. Recently, a few of my friends stood, babies in hand, chatting about motherhood, as I stood in a corner fighting back tears. Though they were doing absolutely nothing wrong, instead of rejoicing with them, I felt bitterness grip my heart and envy fill my veins.
Thankfully, the Lord cut through the sin in my heart and reminded me of truth. He guided me back to a place where my heart was willing and ready to worship him for his gifts to others.
If I had not listened to his call to repent, if I had stuffed the conviction down, envy would have destroyed my friendships. My feelings, which turned to thoughts, would have sooner turned to hate-filled words, and then harmful actions.
I would have isolated myself, avoided them, not celebrated with them and eventually the relationships would have dwindled away.
Comparison kills friendships.
This is the way sin works. It breeds death to everything around us.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15 ESV)
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1-2 ESV)
Friends, we have to learn to rejoice with our sisters in Christ even as our hearts break. There is so much at stake. Even the very picture of the Gospel. We are the Body of Christ, and it is not a suggestion, but a command to both bear each other’s burdens and rejoice together.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15 ESV)
When we praise God with a girl who is receiving what has been withheld from us, we show Christ to the world. We show how the Gospel can transform sinners into a people who truly weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. A people who love others more than themselves. A people following in the footsteps of Christ.
And in doing so, we will build thriving friendships that point others to Jesus.
When Wives Bribe Their Husbands With Sex
This article is intended for adult women only.
It’s a tale as old as time. An exhausted wife looks at the mountain of laundry, and then at dirty dishes practically jumping out from the sink. She glances over, only to see her husband relaxing on the couch. She thinks to herself, I know what will make him help me. And thus begins her manipulation to get the help she desires.
The only problem is, sex is not and never should be a bribe.
The Purpose of Sex
There are multiple purposes for which God created sex. In Genesis 1:28, we see sex was a means to reproduce and fill the earth. While this is the most obvious reason God created sex, we can infer from the way he created it to work, between husband and wife, that he also created it to bring pleasure within marriage.
God is in control of the biological, emotional and spiritual affects of sex, because he created it. (Genesis 1:27, 31). Not only did God create it to be pleasurable, he also created it to be a bonding agent between the husband and wife. When a couple has sex, a chemical called oxytocin is released that draws them closer together and deepens their bond. This is one reason, among many, why sex outside of the commitment of marriage is so destructive. Furthermore, the release of oxytocin is meant to draw the couple to keep coming back to each other for more.
The act of sex is a picture of the unbreakable bond between Christ and the Church, as well as the joy to come when we are with our Bridegroom.
Paul brings up another purpose for sex:
But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2 ESV)
Due to our sinful flesh and this fallen world, God ordained sex within marriage to be a safeguard from sexual sin.
Sex is a Command
“My advice to you is that you have a lot of sex in your marriage. If you aren’t having sex, you are sinning.” My Pastor shocked us with this statement years ago in a premarital counseling session.
That’s beautiful news to the ears of a couple awaiting their wedding night. But once married for a while, it can, for some couples, feel like more of a chore than a gift. Especially for women with children or too much on their plate.
I think this is where it starts–the temptation to lessen sex to a toy used to manipulate our husbands to get what we want. We begin to take it for granted, forgetting that not only is it a gift from God to us, for the good of our marriage, but he has commanded married couples to strive for a healthy sex life.
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 ESV)
If you are married, your body is first and foremost God’s, and then your husband’s. And his is yours. When you spoke your vows on your wedding day, you entered into a covenant in which you promised to give yourself fully to your spouse. We have sex with our husband whether or not we get what we want from him. A gift is not earned but it is given regardless of whether or not it is deserved.
Sex isn’t a piece of candy to be dangled for good behavior, but rather a gift to be given fully and without condition.
When we use sex as a bribe, we threaten to withhold our bodies from our husbands if they don’t obey us. And in doing so, we sin against God.
Sex within a biblical marriage is sacred. Making it into a reward system devalues the true meaning and beauty of sex, and is detrimental to the health of a marriage. Furthermore, it demeans our husband. When we use sex as a bribe, we treat him like a child rather than a man. We disrespect him and set him up for failure.
Do you really want to cultivate an environment in which your husband only helps around the house to get something from you? Or would you rather have a man who cleans because he loves you sacrificially? I know there are men out there who don’t lift a finger to help. Wouldn’t it be better to pray for God to change his heart in this area rather than sacrificing your own value by making some sort of payment plan?
Sex is about pleasing the other person. It’s not a device used to gratify our desires. In the marriage bed, we seek the other’s joy. When wives make it into a reward to be earned, they cause their husband to focus on getting his own sexual desires met, rather than seeking to please his wife. All the while, creating a selfish environment where the true, self sacrificial beauty of marriage is crushed.
When you and your husband make love, you are partaking in a holy act. Did that last line cause you to blush? It feels uncomfortable for us to think of sex as “holy”, because our minds have been tainted by sin. I love what John Piper has to say about this:
“We need a robust vision of the beauty and sacredness of sexual intercourse as God designed it.” John Piper
If we truly understood the meaning of marital sex, we would never think to offer it up as a bribe to get what we want. Instead, we would hold it up and honor it for the beautiful, glorious gift it is. And we would praise God for allowing us to partake in such a holy act that is a metaphor of Christ and his Bride. Something we don’t deserve, but is given to us by God just as we should freely give ourselves to our husbands.
Not as a reward, but as a sacred gift.
For more from John Piper on the sacredness of sex within marriage, check out this podcast episode: Why Sexual Metaphors of Jesus and His Bride Embarrass Us
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