Reading: Proverbs 15:1-33
Envy is a horrible emotion. It’s appetite never seems satisfied. It always longs for more, it holds no satisfaction, no one has ever enjoyed it. Envy is the way of self-torment, self-hatred and turmoil. Solomon writes, “Better a little with the fear of the Lord, than great wealth with turmoil.” (Vs 16 NIV 1984) Church Father, Gregory the Great, describes an envious person as “so racked by another’s happiness that they inflict wounds on their own pining spirit.” Yet when envy gets a hold of us it’s hard to shake off.
In the 1984 movie ‘Amadeus‘, Mozart’s rival Salieri looks back on his life from his room in an insane asylum. He has been driven mad by envy for Mozart’s talents and gifts. He is torn between love and wonder at Mozart’s beautiful music, and, loathing for a ‘boy’ (Amadeus Mozart), who Salieri deems to be a shameless, irreverent rogue. Salieri has prayed to God that he might have a world changing talent. He dreams of being an awesome composer: promising God his chastity, devotion and life. Yet, when it seems his dreams and prayers have come to nothing, and, when he sees an unworthy and frivolous youth receive what he believes to be God’s gifting, he allows the bitterness in his heart to spill out. While looking at a crucifix in his room he addresses God, seething,
“From now on we are enemies, you and I. Because you choose for your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me for reward only the ability to recognise the incarnation. Because you are unjust, unfair, unkind, I will block you, I swear it. I will hinder and harm your creature on earth as far as I am able.”
When we are discontent, when we are envious, our problem is not with stuff, or the people that have the things we want, our problem is with God: we are saying ‘He has not given us enough, he is not enough’. On the other hand, when Jesus is our treasure we have a treasure, “that will never leave us or forsake us.” We can lose wealth, freedom, significance, power, health, beauty and friends, but we can never lose Jesus. It is Jesus who pours out his love into our hearts by his Holy Spirit, (Romans 5:5). A cheerful heart has a continual feast (vs 15). This really is the secret of contentment! (Philippians 4:12).
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” ( Mathew 6:32-33 NIV)
“Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred” (Proverbs 15:17
Father, contentment seems so elusive, yet you are all I need. All I could want is found in you, please forgive me that I find it so hard to be satisfied in you. I know that I am not satisfied, not because I have drunk deeply from your living waters, but because I haven’t. Father, would you help me to be thirsty for you, would you tear open heaven today and pour out your living waters on me; may your hope and love be placed in my heart, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I know that whosoever drinks from your living waters will never thirst! In Jesus name. Amen
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