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Breaking Bad Habits 4 – Jealousy and Materialism

Breaking Bad Habits Day 4: Jealousy and Materialism 

For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? (1 Corinthians 3:3, ESV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV)

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12, ESV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:6-10, ESV)

You walk outside in the morning to get the paper, breathe in some fresh air, and start a new day. You turn to wave to your neighbor, and you see a brand-new car sitting in their driveway. Your eyes then turn to your car, quite a few years older and in desperate need of a wash, and you begin to wish you could afford a new car. Then, you notice your other neighbor has a nice green front lawn while your lawn is riddled with weeds. You remember the brand-new kitchen a friend of yours just put in their house and then think about the warped countertops on which you prepare dinner. All of a sudden you are starting to figure how many credit cards you can open to catch up to everyone. 

Ok, that’s a little bit of a drummed-up scenario. That has never happened to me and has probably not happened to you, either, but the point remains: it’s very easy to be envious of what other people have. Jealousy leads to stress, strife, focus on self, and putting the things of this world on a pedestal which they simply do not deserve. 

If materialism is characteristic of our lives, jealousy will be sure to follow. The Bible teaches the principle of contentment, with material goods to be used to sustain us and to be given as firstfruits to the Lord to serve and bless others. Nowhere do we read in the Bible that we should try to accumulate as much as we can and be the envy of our friends and neighbors. We do read that we should be content with what God has blessed us with and use it to help others and serve the Lord. After all, everything this world holds so near and dear will pass away in a coming day. 

The Lord knows what is best for us and what we can handle. If you are wondering why so many people you know are able to afford new things (well… credit cards and debt can certainly paint a different picture), perhaps the Lord knows that you would not be able to handle that level of wealth and He is protecting you from the perils of having more money. I often think I’d like to give it a go and try to deal with the issues of being wealthy, but the Lord may not have that in store for me. Instead of spending time being jealous of others, it would be better to spend time being generous with what we have. And if you are someone who has been blessed with great wealth (this can also be relative), being humble will help both yourself and others. 

The Lord Jesus gave up the riches of Heaven to be born as a Man and die on a cross. It would be my prayer that each of us would look to the example of Christ, investing less in this world and more in eternity. We have all been blessed beyond measure, so let’s be content with what we have and be generous with others.

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