A dear friend of mine was telling me all about her upcoming vacation plans when I got a twinge of envy and self-pity deep inside of me. My husband, Joe, and I haven't had a real vacation in over 15 years, since we began raising ducks as pets. It can be challenging enough to find someone trustworthy to care for your dog or cat while you're away, but have you ever tried to get a duck sitter? As I listened to my friend gushing about her getaway plans, the Spirit of God spoke to my heart and urged me to be genuinely happy for her. He reminded me of the Lord's instructions in Philippians 2:4 (TLB), "Don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing." Right then and there, I made a decision to push my feelings aside, and to be sincerely happy for my friend's blessings and interests. That's when I began to sense supernatural joy and peace springing up on the inside of me.
As I did a little soul-searching during our conversation, I realized that Joe and I were in a season of our lives where we were enjoying and benefiting immensely from having pet ducks. Since Joe and I are in our 60s now, I know that we are getting closer to a time when having pets like these will no longer be practical or desirable for us. So for now, I want to appreciate and embrace this precious season of our lives so that when it finally comes to an end, I will take comfort in the knowledge that I made the most of it.
I have to say that it's very common for me to run into folks who are blatantly jealous of other people's vacations and blessings. And many of these people are Christians. While it can be "natural" for us to initially be a bit envious of others when they describe their good fortune, believers have the ability and responsibility through the power of God's Spirit to "switch gears," and to choose to be genuinely happy for others in these situations. You and I don't have to bow down to our feelings. In every situation, we have the power to choose joy. To choose peace. To choose contentment. To choose gratitude. And especially, to choose to love as Jesus does.
Scripture tells us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others' joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others' grief]." (Romans 12:15 AMP) When we hear of others' blessings, the Lord wants us to "share their joy". We can't do that if we're feeling jealous or envious. Only by sharing their joy can we sow good seeds that will enable us to reap a harvest of blessings for ourselves in the days ahead. Solomon wrote: "A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones." (Proverbs 14:30 AMP) How we view, treat, and speak of others will affect every part of us, including our minds, hearts, and bodies. Our thoughts, attitudes, and actions can minister life and health to every fiber of our being when we are following the Holy Spirit's lead. On the other hand, when we choose disobedience over God's way, we could be ministering death and destruction to ourselves. Proverbs 11:17 (NLT) says, "Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves." Don't be fooled into thinking that how you relate to others won't affect your own well-being.
Maybe you haven't had a decent vacation in years, and you are surrounded by people who are enjoying them regularly. Or perhaps you are driving an old beat-up car, and you keep encountering those who can buy new vehicles every few years. Instead of giving in to jealousy or despair, determine to sow good seed by sharing their joy. As you do, take comfort in the fact that your harvest of blessings is on its way to you!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times that I failed to take an interest in others and what they were doing, and I chose to focus on myself and my own interests instead. Work in my heart and my mind so that I can be more Christlike in my thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. Teach me how to be genuinely happy for people when they are enjoying things that are out of my reach. When I am tempted to become jealous or envious, remind me of how I could be harming my health and well-being. Thank You that as I rejoice with those who rejoice, and share their joy, I will experience the abundant life and blessing that You promise in Your Word!
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