The title for this article almost sounds like an infomercial, doesn’t it? Yikes! I certainly don’t mean for it to come off that way. I just want to stress how easy it actually is to not be envious of others. You heard me—easy. It’s just a matter of seeing things for what they really are.
In the classic children’s book Ellen Tebbits, Ellen and her best friend, Austine, are alike in a lot of ways. But in others, well, not so much…
Ellen’s mother lives by the philosophy of “a place for everything and everything in its place”. Austine’s mom, on the other hand, doesn’t mind letting the girls make a mess in the kitchen, doesn’t worry if her daughter’s clothes aren’t neatly starched and ironed, or if she splashes in the puddles in her boots… on purpose.
Now I know you are wondering what this has to do with envy. Don’t worry—I’m getting to that. You see, Ellen and Austine were envious of each other. Ellen wished her mom would be a little less prim and proper and Austine wished hers would be a little more concerned about those things. They were “guilty” of the same thing nearly every person in North America is guilty of—wanting what we don’t have. Thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
I spend the majority of my time writing for and ministering to young people and families. I say this to point out the fact that I know for sure and for certain that if you were to take a vote among children, asking which they prefer—presents from their parents or their parents’ presence—their parents’ presence would win in a landslide victory. No questions asked. No recount necessary.
Our kids are only human. They’re going to have a few moments of wishing for expensive shoes or a power-wheel jeep to ride around in the yard, but those moments won’t last long if their time is filled with making memories, playing games, talking, and learning from and with you.
And do you want to know something equally true and exciting? When you are focused on the things that really matter (like family, serving in ministry, and being the person God created you to be) you won’t have any room for envy in your heart and mind either!
Okay, now that you know that envy doesn’t have to be a part of your life, let’s look at how to kick it to the curb where it belongs…
Step one: Think about something else
More specifically, think about several other somethings.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
When you fill your mind with these things, there’s no room left for envy.
Step two: Be thankful
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Instead of thinking about what you don’t have, think about what you do have. We are so quick to whine about our first-world problems. It’s sad. No, it’s disgusting—especially when so many others in the world are struggling with real problems.
Step three: Simplify your life
Less really is more when it comes to beating the little green monster of envy. When you simplify your life by downsizing, getting rid of the ‘fluff’, and becoming thriftier, you realize you don’t need or want the things you give up.
See, that’s not so hard, is it? It all comes down to ‘just’ deciding to be like Jesus and doing it, because when your life is a reflection of His, there isn’t a thing this world has to offer you need to be envious of.