Continued from here.
People who compare themselves with me will sometimes envy the blessings they see that God has given me without noticing the costs I have paid. For example, one of my greatest blessings is that I do not stay angry with people and have the ability to extend grace, even as I am being hurt. This keeps me joyful even when enduring unfair circumstances – not that I do this perfectly, but my rebound period is fairly quick because I immediately go to God in prayer for those who hurt me. I learned to do this at great cost – I suffered for decades as deeply-ingrained bitterness sucked the life out me and made me a miserable person who cried and complained A LOT. Today, I am quick to forgive because I lived in heavy bondage for most of my life, and I refuse to go back. People seem to assume praying for my enemies and extending grace is easy for me, but it’s not – it’s a discipline I paid a heavy price to learn.
Another example is people envying my ability to sense God’s leading in specific areas of my life. This is something else I have developed over the years after investing much time in seeking God with my whole heart. For me, this involves prioritizing the first hour of my day in quiet time with God, even when I travel, am sick, have struggled with weeks of insomnia, etc. It also involves observing the Sabbath each week, meaning I must cram 7 days’ worth of work into 6 to make this happen, and it comes with a cost: I have little free time to do what I want to do because I’m working most of the 6 days and then spending my time honoring God on the 7th. I am frequently tempted to watch a secular movie on the Sabbath because I simply don’t have time to watch it during the week, but I don’t because I love God more.
When you are tempted to covet someone else’s relationship with God, pay attention to the costs that the other person is paying. Are you engaging in similar spiritual disciplines? Are you putting forth the effort required to get the results you would like to see in your own life? Take your focus off the other person and place it onto your relationship with God. Comparison robs you of joy. The key to joy is God, not having what someone else has.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace running on a treadmill and lifting dumbbells over the words, “Workin’ It.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]