If you have ever been to the store, picking up this and that, checking out at the register, and then bringing those bags into the house only to discover you really have forgotten just about everything you were supposed to remember to get while at the store, then you will associate with my next statement. Sometimes our lives get a little carried away by the stuff we see, hear, and smell! Our senses and emotions direct our attention to things we don't need, or simply are not right for our lives at the moment, in order to entice us to actually pick them up, pay the price for them, and then make them a part of our lives. Remember this - there is always a price to pay - it may not be a reasonable one, but when we are drawn in by what stimulates our senses or plays on our emotions, we run the risk of paying a price a little too steep for where we are in life at the moment.
Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels; soak yourself in the Fear-of-God—
that’s where your future lies. Then you won’t be left with an armload of nothing. (Proverbs 23:17-18 MSG)
At first, this doesn't seem like rocket science, but try hard enough to rise above what our senses or emotions pull us toward and you will soon appreciate resistance as more difficult than you might first believe. Now, imagine you come home tonight, noticing as you round the corner into your housing area that the neighbors have just applied a fresh coat of paint to the house. You notice how much it makes your house look a little dingy and kind of old looking. As you round the corner the next day, you notice they have had landscapers in to do some work to spruce up the front yard, complete with a little lazily flowing rock river and colorful flowers galore. What happens now? Well, you see their freshly painted house, newly landscaped yard and you do what? You compare it to yours!
What's worse is when you come home the third night and find they have a new car in the garage - exactly like the one you have been dreaming about owning some day! Where does you mind go with this third intake? If you are like the rest of the human race, you want to know if they won the lottery! You pull into the garage, put the door down without saying a word, and sulk into the house. As you examine your surroundings, your mind might just begin to cross the bridge from amazement for your neighbor's good fortune into a place of envying their ability to do what you only dream about doing. What you don't know is that they have used their home as equity to secure a second loan for which they will live in indebtedness for another twenty years or so!
What you fail to remember in that single moment of self-misery is the commitment you made some time ago to live without consumer debt. You chose to not over-indulge, living within your means, and being consistent in your objectives. Yet, when you see the shining paint job, bubbling river, and super cool car, you stop for a moment and wallow in a little self-pity. Why? You have allowed your senses to affect your emotions and in turn, your emotions are playing with your desires! This is how envy works. Your senses pull you in - getting you to pay attention to stuff you might just not have cared about before. Once you get lured by your senses, your emotions begin to be impacted, and it is a short trip down the alley leading to the "pity-party" being held in your mind!
Envy has a way of getting us all twisted up in knots. We don't realize just how much it affects us until we are well down the road of self-pity and agonizing over what we think we cannot live without! The reminder to all of us is what the writer of Proverbs shares with us today - envy leaves us with armloads of nothing. Thinking again about the neighbors who have had the major "overhaul" of their house and are now driving around in a shiny new car, we might be tempted to say things are "going their way" all of a sudden. What we often are not aware of when we just look on the outside of their lives is the tremendous amount of "strings attached" to what is is they have "accomplished" with their ventures. We will do well to remember that things which seem one way may actually end up creating worries and problems we never wanted in the first place.
The trip to the grocer yielded a load of purchases - none of which will meet the nutritional needs of our body. The difference between what envy brings into our lives and what is best for our lives really comes down to the price we pay and the impact it will have on us over the long run. Envy has a way of leaving us emotionally bankrupt, spiritually anemic, and physically exhausted. Perhaps this is why God gives us clear instructions to be aware of its "pull" in our lives - the price is too great to pay! Just sayin!