By Jill Hart
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:15-26
Not long ago I was feeling defeated and disheartened. Things in my life were actually going well at the time; CWAHM was growing, business was picking up and my book had just released. But there was unrest stirring within me, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was that was bothering me.
Until, that is, I was talking about it with a friend one day.
"I'm so frustrated," I said to her.
"I don't see why," she replied. "You're doing thing many people only dream of doing. Lots of people wish they could write a book or work from home."
"I know. But I wish my business could be more like."
And that's when it struck me. Instead of being content, or even more than that, rejoicing in what God was doing in my life I was stuck in the dangerous trap of comparing myself to others. Or, in essence, envy.
Envy is a slippery slope that can trip you up when you least expect it. Simple thoughts like "I wish my kids were as talented as her kids," or "If only my business included travel like her business."
And envy can take root in any area of your life and in the most innocent forms. A friend tells you about something special their husband did for them and you wish your husband would do something thoughtful for you. Your child tells you about the new car a family you know just purchased and you consider what it would be like to upgrade your mommy-wagon for a sleek, new design. You see an interesting idea that someone is implementing in their business and wish you'd thought of it.
None of these thoughts are bad or sinful in passing. It's when we allow ourselves to dwell on what we don't have or worse yet, what someone has, that it becomes a problem.
Proverbs 4:23 (NCV), tells us, "Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life."
We're shown in the very first pages of the Bible how powerful the emotion of envy can be and what it can cause. In Genesis chapter four, we see the first murder in human history. At the root of the issue is Cain's envy of his brother, Abel.
The question that remains is how do we combat envy? How do we keep from comparing ourselves to others, and always coming up short?
The answer is simpler than you might think. We must learn to practice contentment with what God has given us and where He's placed us in life.
One of the greatest examples of learning to be content comes from the Bible. The apostle Paul went through many, many trials after he became a follower of Christ. And yet in Philippians 4:11-13, he explains:
"for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
We can't be content in our own power. Human nature is such that we are constantly wanting more, to achieve more, make more, spend more, and so on. And yet, Paul shares with us the secret to being content in any and every situation. Do you see it? The secret is asking God for help in this area.
When Paul says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" he is referring back to the prior sentence "I have learned the secret of being content". The secret is relying on God, not trying to force contentment on ourselves. Only God can provide true peace and contentment. Only God can provide true freedom from comparison-making and envy.
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