January 9, 2019
Green With Envy: Scratching the Poison Ivy of Comparison
Below you will find an audio of the devotion being read for you, followed by the written devotion. Listen on the go, listen as you read along, or enjoy reading it without the audio. God bless!
Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own. — Harold Coffin
A Better Tooth Fairy
We can all connect with the following story on one level or another. This story was shared by Pastor Groeschel at the beginning this chapter in his book. He explains how at one point “the tooth fairy was coming around (their house) more than the mailman.” That happens when you have six children.
The frequency of the teeth falling out, coupled with Groeschel’s self-admitted conservative approach to finances, made his pay out a little less than the going rate. The tooth fairy in the Groeschel’s house exchanged each little tooth offering for a crispy $1.00 bill. This was all fine and dandy until one momentous day…
7-year-old Anna came home from school one day, visibly upset. “Daddy! Daddy! You’re not gonna believe this! You know how we get a dollar from our tooth fairy? My friend McKae said her tooth fairy brings her five dollars!” She continued, wondering aloud, “Daddy, why, why, why? It just isn’t fair! How come we only get a dollar when McKae gets five?” As Groeshcel searched for an adequate answer, his daughter presented her solution, “Daddy, maybe we can find out which tooth fairy they use and just switch to theirs!” (1)
This relatable story is cute because it illustrates a child’s perspective as they grapple with envy. But we understand that envy can grow into toxic levels of anger, jealousy, resentment, and even hatred.
Failing to allow God to cleanse us of envy is like allowing mold spores to grow out of control in our home. Mold spores, in the infancy stages, are not nearly as dangerous. But if those spores are allowed to grow, they will graduate into toxic, even lethal, levels; especially if there are infants in a home. See the parallels?
There is always going to be a certain level of envy present in the church. We are human. We are going to struggle with envy, jealousy, and discontent; but that is not an excuse to let it go unchecked. We need times, like this Daniel Fast, where we allow God to come and remove the infection so we can breath fresh, clean, non-toxic air again. The babies, the less mature spiritually, will have a far greater survival rate in a church that is vigilant to rid itself of envy, and the danger of comparison. Sure, we need to be mentoring others, but we can’t allow the poison of envy and comparison to distort our view of others.
The Comparison Trap
Envy, at the most basic level, is focusing on the blessings of others, instead of focusing on the blessings of God in our life. We get so captivated by someone else’s blessing that we can’t see that God has surrounded us with blessings.
Envy takes on many forms, including the following:
Technology Envy: As you are excitedly purchasing the latest and greatest form of technology, that you have sacrificed so much to be able to finally afford, they are releasing the bigger, better, faster, clearer, form of technology. Unless you have an unlimited spending budget, this usually means someone else has a better model than you. That is just the way this rat-race is run.
Appearance Envy: This is another deadly comparison trap. Even if we are in peak physical condition, we are all shaped differently. Most likely there is always going to be someone that we desire to be like in at least one area of our appearance. We want to be bigger in one area of our body, and smaller in another. While we should try to be in good physical condition, the comparison trap is maddening in the area of our appearance. We need to learn to be content with how God made us. There will always be someone who you will think looks better than you. Try to be the best you! Don’t try to be someone else.
I won’t mention any names, because I don’t want this to be perceived as being critical, but there are some celebrities that come to mind when contemplating this subject. They got caught up into trying to look like someone else, and after several surgeries, they looked much different than they started out. In my humble opinion, a lot of these people would have looked much better just trying to be a better version of themselves than drastically changing their appearance. They were so envious of others, and so discontent with themselves, that they literally lost their identity in the process. Bottom line. Be you. A better you is great to strive for, but don’t lose yourself in the process.
Relational Envy: We can be envious of others in several ways in the area of relationship envy. As a single person, we can envy our friend who gets married. As a married person, we can envy someone else because their spouse behaves in a way that we want our spouse to behave like. As a prospective parent, we can envy others when they have a successful pregnancy. Be careful who and what you envy. Give it to God, and pray that he opens the right doors for you. Every relationship has its blessings and challenges. If you were somehow able to trade places with someone you envy, you may be surprised how quickly you desired to return to your life.
Career Envy: It is easy to envy the benefits of others regarding their career. We may desire their celebrity status, or their ridiculous income (some envious people would say they are stupid rich). You may desire to have someone else’s work schedule, or daily commute to work. The list could go on…but again, be careful who you envy. Most likely, you don’t understand the full picture. There is always a price to pay and responsibilities that come with success. We should strive to be the best we can be in our careers, but be content with being the best version of what God’s will dictates for our lives in the area of our careers.
The Evils of Envy
James 3:14-16 encourages us, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
The Bible is full of examples of people who were destroyed by envy. Cain let his envy for Abel drive him to murder. Rachel envied Leah because she could not have children and then, in a twist of fate, Rachel ends up dying while giving birth, naming the child Benoni, which means “son of my suffering” (Jacob called him Benjamin). The envy of Joseph’s brothers drove them to sell him as a slave. And finally, blind envy caused Saul to seek to kill David, his greatest supporter and ally. Arguably, David did more to support Saul than anyone else…but envy does not exercise sound logic.

“Jealousy, rage, bitterness, murder, and heart-wrenching grief — all emerging from the toxic power of envy.” (2)
Two Remedies for Envy
As we close our devotion today, let’s consider a couple things that can help us overcome our envy:
Count Your Blessings: It doesn’t cost us a dime, and we can all do it. Take some time to focus on the blessings you have. Look closely. Pay attention to the little details.
When I do this with my wife and daughters, I find so many little things to be thankful for. The way they giggle, their cute dimples, their adorable mannerisms, the way they chew their food, the way they pronounce words, their interpretation of events…the list goes on and on. But sometimes I am so busy, I miss most of these things. STOP. Take time to count your blessings. Appreciate all you have!
Spend Time with Truly Grateful People: Just like discontent and bitterness can be contagious, so can gratitude. The more you hang out with people that are full of joy and gratitude, the more you will be humbled and learn to appreciate what you have.
This is especially true with people in hospitals. Pain and sickness has a way of making people more bitter or more grateful. Some of the most grateful, content people I have known are people who have suffered great loss or pain. Sickness, suffering, and pain have a way of helping us focus on what really matters in our lives and being grateful for the small things.
I am grateful for you today! Thank you for going through this Daniel Fast with us!
Now go enjoy the blessings of the Lord in your life. Celebrate what God is doing in and through you, and celebrate what God has blessed you with.
(1) Groeschel, Craig. Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World (p. 110). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
(2) Groeschel, Craig. Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World (p. 115). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.