Thinking Out Loud - Ms. Green

Commentaries from a female, conservative Christian worldview. Intermittent observations on human behavior and current events. Occasional bursts of personal tirades,confessions, and discoveries. Frequent discussions about my "Narrow-Minded Faith".

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Envy

This was in my local newspaper yesterday, and though the words “Christian world view” were not mentioned, I can’t think of a better example in connection with envy.

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Question: I have some friends that I have had since high school, 20 years ago. Since then, some of us have made more money than others. I can tell it is starting to be an issue with one of my buddies. He is always commenting about some aspect of my money. What can I do to make this less of an issue?

Answer: Give him half your income.


O.K., maybe we should consider Plan B!
Anyone who has taken an Economics 101 class knows that limited resources (how much you have) are always chasing unlimited wants (how much you do not have — yet!).

Translation: we always want more than we have.

In and of itself, this is not a bad thing. Much of man's economic progress is caused by the fact that people want and buy things they don't really need — they just want them.
One hundred years ago, no one in Louisiana had air conditioning. We all sweated away the summers in relative contentment, knowing fall's cool air would one day arrive.
One hundred years later, imagine being the only person on your block without air conditioning. How happy would you be?

So what makes the difference? The air conditioner? Now — remember, you were happy in your sweat 100 years ago.

The difference is comparison. We want what we do not have. But when someone else has what we want (i.e., the air conditioner), then we really want it.
When it is a friend who has what we want, (and to compound the problem, it may also be something we cannot afford), well that just sends some people into orbit.
Economic comparison is just one form of envy, but envy it is.

Author Chuck Swindoll explains, "Envy is a painful and resentful awareness of an advantage (more money) enjoyed by another ... accompanied by a strong desire to possess the same advantage. Envy wants to have what someone else possesses."
If you are making ostentatious displays of your wealth or income around your friend, he will obviously find that offensive or boorish on your part. However, I doubt that is the problem.

The converse is usually the case. We humans tend to make the huge mistake of equating a person's affluence (income) or wealth (assets) with their value.
If you enjoy a degree of wealth with no degree of humility, you probably have no friends to run off.

On the other hand, if you are not as wealthy as some of your friends, don't feel like they necessarily look down on you. True friends don't do that.
My friend Tom had advanced degrees, yet chose a profession that did not pay a high salary. He once said with a smile, "I don't have to be rich. I just have to have rich friends!" He had the right attitude!

Admittedly, many of us have a hard time being as UN-self-conscious about this issue as Tom. When we socialize with friends who live in a certain neighborhood, or drive a certain car, or have a certain occupation, we can become very self-focused.
I've been around just long enough to know that there are many rich folks that do not deserve their riches. And there are many of meager means who deserve much better.
But I also know that engaging in comparison may make the rich full of false pride and the "average-person" full of false pity.

Focus on being a decent person and don't try to change to make your friend somehow feel better about himself.
He has just as much value as you do. But only he can tell himself that.
And for some of us, that is a long journey.


Byron R. Moore, CFP® is managing director/planning group of Argent Advisors Inc. Write to him at 500 East Reynolds Drive, Ruston, LA 71270 or call him at 251-5858. The information contained in this column should not be construed as a substitute for personalized investment advice.


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Scripture says a lot about envy. Here are just a few verses.


A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” Proverbs 14:30

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.” Proverbs 23:17

Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” Proverbs 27:4

Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.”

And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt:…” Acts 7:9

The book of Romans lists the sin of envy in with some other pretty horrible sins. The association is undeniable…

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,…”


It is clear that we are not to be envious of others or what others have. We are to be happy with what God gives us.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11

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2 Comments:

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous dakota said...

Polygamy and '50 yrs' old having sex with 13 yrs old girls....Is it what religion does to people?

 
At 10:22 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

I'm with you, anonym...er I mean "dakota". Religion does terrible things to people in the name of religion. That's why I'm not a very religious person.

Instead, I have a personal relationship with my Creator. It's all that matters to me. Religion does nothing for me.

 

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