The Thief Of Joy

The Thief Of Joy

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the Lord always.
–Proverbs 23:17

Solomon was the wealthiest man of his day, yet he knew all too well the painful sting of envy. He wrote in Proverbs 24:1, “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them.” And in Proverbs 24:19-20, he said, “Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked; for there will be no future for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”

What is envy? Envy is the desire for what somebody else has. It not only means you wish you had something that somebody else has, but it goes one step further–it means you wish that other person did not have that thing. Envy is the opposite of agape love. Real love rejoices over what other people have instead of resenting it.

The desire for more is a thief that robs us of enjoyment for the present. It is an instigator of anxious thoughts about the future. It is a cruel taskmaster that refuses to allow us to rest. And it is a disease to which we are all susceptible.

There are different ways we can observe the symptoms of this infection of the heart: “I wish I drove a newer car.” “I wish I lived in a larger house.” “I wish I had a better job.” “I wish I had a different mate.” More, different, better, larger–these are all symptoms of the disease that keeps us from enjoying the present.

Sometimes dissatisfaction can be a good thing. For example, it was Wilbur and Orville Wright’s dissatisfaction with travel by land and sea that encouraged them to develop the airplane. It was Thomas Edison’s dissatisfaction with having to read by candlelight that encouraged him to invent the electric light. The desire for more or better or larger is harmful only when it keeps us from enjoying what God has already provided us and provokes us to worry about the future.

God wants us to experience satisfaction with what He has provided for us right now. How do we do that? By realizing the opposite of more is not less. The opposite of more is contentment.

***

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Developing A Content Heart” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.