Australia’s 12.4 BILLION dollar advertising industry is built largely on the human heart’s capacity for jealousy and envy. We are all well aware of their strategies because, even though we can often see them for exactly what they are, they work! We are constantly bombarded with images of people living a better lifestyle, gadgets that are higher-tech, clothes and accessories that are more stylish; the allure of bigger, better, more.
As we’ve looked at in previous blogs, jealousy is a warning light. It reveals something of what is happening in our hearts and minds that is out of line or unhealthy. It can show us that we’re looking around for our sense of self instead of ahead to God, it can show that we’re not trusting in God’s plans, provision or purpose; or it can show us we’re doing the right things with the wrong motives.
Jealousy also has a higher cost than we might acknowledge. There is a price we pay; something is sacrificed when we give ourselves over to entertaining or harbouring jealous thoughts.
The first price we pay (I’m proposing 3) is that jealousy keeps us from feeling content.
Paul writes “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil 4:11).
I have LEARNED to be content, whatever the circumstances. Let that idea bounce around your head and heart for a moment. Content. WHATEVER the circumstances. Not sure I can say that truthfully about myself in ALL circumstances. Can you?
It’s important to note that Paul writes this as someone whose life experiences were not ‘contentment-inducing’. This guy suffered in all sorts of ways that most of us will never have to – imprisoned, beaten, threatened – and there’s nothing to indicate that outside of that persecution he lived in particular luxury or popularity. And yet, he says he has learned to be content.
He goes on “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 want.” (Phil 4:12)
Jealousy robs us of our capacity to be content where we are with what we have.
As I’ve said (in previous posts) when I let my thought life go to its default, I see couples or families and I’m wishing for that and, with or without awareness, suddenly single life sucks. My happiness and well-being suffers. I’m not content with where I am now.
Paul says he LEARNED the secret of contentment in every situation. Jealousy has a price tag. It costs us our contentment. It costs us our gratitude. It costs us our peace. It costs us our enjoyment of what we have and where we are and who we’re with.
For reflection … how can you see jealousy feeding your discontent? What can you do to build the practice of gratitude and contentment into your daily life?