The famous French artist Edgar Degas is remembered worldwide for his paintings of ballerinas. Less known is the envy he expressed of his friend and artistic rival Édouard Manet, another master painter. Said Degas of Manet, “Everything he does he always hits off straightaway, while I take endless pains and never get it right.”
It’s a curious emotion, envy—listed by the apostle Paul among the worst traits, as bad as “every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip” (Romans 1:29
Author Christina Fox says that when envy develops among believers, it’s “because our hearts have turned from our one true love.” In our envy, she said, “we are chasing after the inferior pleasures of this world instead of looking to Jesus. In effect, we’ve forgotten whose we are.”
Yet there’s a remedy. Turn back to God. “Offer every part of yourself to him,” Paul wrote (Romans 6:13)—your work and life especially. In another of his letters Paul penned, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4).
Thank God for His blessings—not just things, but for the freedom of His grace. Seeing our own God-given gifts, we find contentment again.
In Romans 6, Paul proclaims that as believers in Jesus our old self has been crucified with Christ, and we’re now “dead to sin” and “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (vv. 6–7, 11). If that’s so, then why do we still sin? We’re still subject to sin and are to be on our guard against it, but sin is no longer our master (v. 14). Through our identification with Jesus, believers are given a new desire to live for God and to abandon old ways of life. Although this requires intentionality on our part, the Holy Spirit living inside us guides and transforms us into Christ’s likeness (John 16:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18).