Sunday, 29 September 2013

Working On Your Character: Envy

Envy: According to the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary is the feeling of wanting to be in the same situation as someone else; the feeling of wanting something that someone else has. 

How envy comes about

My mom says that when I was a child I used to imitate everything that she did. If she sat on a couch in a certain way, I would also sit in the same manner. If she didn’t bath, I also didn’t bath. When she read books, I also flipped over book pages pretending to read. The latter is a huge advantage for me because today I spend most hours of my day reading. In any case, I have this natural habit within me that when I love a person or look up to them; I end up wanting to be like them. I know many authors, and pastor’s wives, and a whole lot of people whom I’ve read about and I wanted to be like them. For instance, in one of Serita Ann Jakes’ books I read about how she met Bishop TD Jakes. I was so tantalized by her story wishing that my situation would turn out to be similar. It looks like no one ever taught me to envy, it’s just a natural effect from Adam’s sin. So I was born with envy. 

Well, that’s not entirely the only way envy comes about. Before parents have their children, they have already decided what their children will be. I was sitting with my ladies the other day and listened to them as they expressed so clearly what their children are going to do and what they will not do. One of them said that her child’s favorite color is going to be blue no matter what. So here’s where the problem lies, parents want their children to be what they were not created to be. Some parents are jealous of other families that they compare their children to other family’s children. In abnormal families, siblings are competing with one another; they don’t want their child to be “beaten” by their cousins. Neighbors don’t like their next door neighbors so they tend to place their children in competition with their neighbors children. Hence, from early childhood, kids are already filled with so much envy which prevents them from being what God created them to be. 

Now I’m not only stating the above because I’m assuming it happens somewhere in the world, it’s a condition I lived with, in, and around me most of my life. I used to hate people simply because I couldn’t be like them. If she was slender, reserved, not sleeping around, I disliked her. If she was talkative, bubbly, generous, I disliked her too. I disliked everybody because I wanted to be everybody. Due to this envious spirit I could not have healthy relationships with other people. Mostly they would intimidate me and I would use anger or bullying as a way of trying to mask the intimidation. I remember way back in Primary school there was this little tiny girl who was really so quiet and bright. I would jump on top of her, and I was extremely big back then, and the poor girl’s knees would just rattle trying to find stability with a nearby pole. I was only doing that because even from such an early age I couldn’t understand why she was so calm yet I wanted what she had. When I got to high school because I couldn’t bully physically, I bullied emotionally. There was this girl who was really so cool, never sought attention or anything of that sort and I liked her so much. This intense like turned to envy that I would attempt doing certain things that she did. She wore glasses so when she couldn’t see properly she’d make her eyes thinner, and guess what, I used to copy that! Why in the world would I want to have an eyesight problem??? But just because I couldn’t be like her, every time she said something I used to take offence ending up with us not being in speaking terms. She always tried to communicate with me but because I was intimidated by her I always pushed her aside. Envious spirits destroys relationships. 

It develops through small things

One morning while walking to campus there was a girl walking really fast in front of me. I actually felt intimidated by that, I thought well, she walks fast that’s why she’s slender and I’m just this big person walking slow taking all the space. So I began walking fast because I saw her doing that. The Holy Spirit said to me, “Don’t compare yourself. Walk fast if you want to, but don’t compare yourself!” Envy begins when we compare ourselves to other people. It’s actually a disease. When you become quite aware of it you actually discover the small unnecessary thing that causes you to be envious. I was sitting in a meeting one evening and one of our leaders came through with her cute little baby boy. Before she began talking she handed the baby over to one of the ladies sitting there. Instantly I found myself thinking: “Why didn’t she give the baby to me?” But why me? Every time it’s always the same questions, but why wasn’t I the one who started that organization? Why wasn’t I the one who went overseas?  Why am I not the pastor’s child? Or why am I not a Medical student? But why me? Why must I have everything that everybody excluding myself has? The Holy Spirit teaches me that I need to be content with who I am. Yes, I might not come from a wealthy and healthy background, I might not be like somebody else, but all my experiences, my personality, my physical characteristics all blend in together creating the person that God wanted to use for a specific purpose only known by Him. If I didn’t go through all that I went through, I wouldn’t be testifying about how God delivered me from sexual immorality today. 

I think the true test of character is when other people are blessed and even though we don’t feel as blessed as them, we truly celebrate with them. Honestly it’s not easy but it can happen the moment we realize that regardless of who we are or what we’ve done, we all matter to God. We all have a specific purpose even though our purposes are not the same. Christians are envious of others in the church. You’ll find bizarre situations when someone is not even involved in the church but is envious of one who is, I mean…that’s carnality! (For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 1Corinthians3:3). People envy others because of 3 reasons: (1) they have not discovered their purpose of life, (2) they don’t love or appreciate themselves, and (3), and they have not truly surrendered their lives back to their Creator who will crucify their flesh. 

How to overcome the envious spirit

There is no easy way to get rid of Adam’s nature besides surrendering your life to God. I still struggle with envy but I don’t accept it because it’s only purpose is to ruin the life that God has designed for me. Every time I find myself tempted to envy another person I pray immediately. Some other times I take days off to fast and cry out to God to break the life of Adam in me. The devil had his way in my life for a long time and now I’m going back to the Author of my life and He is in the process of manufacturing a “new” me, a humble product that He intended me to be when He formed me in my mom’s womb. I believe that there is nothing impossible with God and if He wanted to take away the envious spirit completely out of me at this moment He would do it. He just wants me to endure the process, to get completely healed, to experience genuine forgiveness, and to remember if it weren’t for His grace I wouldn’t have overcame. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, I don’t know how long I’m going to get down on my knees and cry out to my Lord to break the life of Adam, but it’s okay because I have His promises which assures me that someday I will experience the liberty He has given me! (I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. Ezekiel 36:25).

The Lord will not forsake his people for his GREAT name’s sake! ~1Samuel 12:22)

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