A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30
Writer Marilyn McEntyre shares the story of learning from a friend that “the opposite of envy is celebration.” Despite this friend’s physical disability and chronic pain, which limited her ability to develop her talents in the ways she’d hoped, she was somehow able to uniquely embody joy and to celebrate with others, bringing “appreciation into every encounter” before she passed away.
That insight—“the opposite of envy is celebration”—lingers with me, reminding me of friends in my own life who seem to live out this kind of comparison-free, deep, and genuine joy for others.
Envy is an easy trap to fall into. It feeds on our deepest vulnerabilities, wounds, and fears, whispering that if we were only more like so-and-so, we wouldn’t be struggling, and we wouldn’t be feeling bad.
As Peter reminded new believers in 1 Peter 2, the only way to “rid [ourselves]” of the lies that envy tells us is to be deeply rooted in the truth, to “have tasted”—deeply experienced—“that the Lord is good” (vv. 1–3). We can “love one another deeply, from the heart” (1:22) when we know the true source of our joy—“the living and enduring word of God” (v. 23).
We can surrender comparison when we remember who we really are—beloved members of “a chosen people, . . . God’s special possession.” We’re called “out of darkness into his wonderful light” (2:9).
What examples of comparison-free joy have influenced your life? How does remembering your place in the body of Christ free you from the need to compare yourself to others?
Loving God, source of all that’s good, help me to let go of envy’s lies, the kind of lies that suck out joy and “rot the bones.” Help me to instead celebrate the countless beautiful gifts of life in Your kingdom.
Scripture often uses food metaphors to describe its value. Peter urges us to adopt the attitude and appetite of hungry “newborn babies . . . [who] crave pure spiritual milk” so that we “will grow into a full experience of salvation” (1 Peter 2:2 nlt). As we grow and mature, we move from drinking milk to eating “solid food” (1 Corinthians 3:2), for “solid food is for the mature” (Hebrews 5:14). Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Job treasured the words of God more than his “daily bread” (Job 23:12). Ezekiel ate God’s words to satisfy his hunger, testifying, “So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey” (Ezekiel 3:3). We can emulate Jeremiah’s excitement and satisfaction: “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight” (Jeremiah 15:16 nlt).