I think if we were honest with ourselves we all have been envious of someone. In other words, there are times we desire what others have. I struggle with envy, and it’s an area in which I’m still growing. I don’t desire what others have; I’m more concerned with what others have become. I look at what I have become, and I wish things were different. I was envious of people getting married in their 20s and 30s when I struggled with making friends. I was envious of classmates at Moody getting two or three job offers after graduation while I couldn’t get a job interview.

I think there’s always a potential for envy even in the best communities. We may become envious of someone who was able to get into a newer home. We may become envious of someone with better behaved kids. We can become envious of someone with a better snowmobile and or better four-wheeler. We can become envious of those who have a job or better paying job.

This is the struggle Asaph had in Psalm 73. Right away he commented about the goodness of God.

“Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart” (Psalms 73:1).

However, after Asaph mentions God’s goodness, he gets right into a discussion about the struggle he’s having with envy. This particular struggle isn’t just something that only occurred during the time of Asaph, but still happens today. We may wonder why God blesses our neighbor on Sunday and how we struggle to make a living the remainder of the week.

Asaph observed things about how others were prospering, yet were wicked. According to verses 3-5we read:

“For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind” (Psalms 73:3-5).

Most of my struggle has been in the realm of jobs and opportunities. I don’t get envious of the rich too much. Perhaps no one here does either, but there may come a time when we wonder why some people get all the breaks in life while we struggle to pay the phone and electric bills and perhaps the house payment. We wonder or question the goodness of God. We may start to wonder if the Christian walk is worth the effort because we aren’t seeing the results we wanted to see. This was what Asaph was thinking.

“All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning” (Psalms 73:13-14).

Asaph was getting more and more into despair and perhaps wondering walking by faith was worth it, but all this changed when he changed his focus. If we are to defeat envy, we need to change our focus. This happened for Asaph in verses 16-17: “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end” (Psalms 73:16-17).

The way to overcome envy is to change our focus. When I want to be envious of how others get the job or the interview and how I struggle to have my own apartment, I have to get my focus on what God has given me. Dr. Phil tells people to write down 100 blessings each day for a week, and each day the blessings need to be different.

When we count our blessings, we will start to consider how much God has given us, and our desires should change. In other words, our focus will turn away from what others have and what others have accomplished; and we will fall in love again with God. This is what happened to the writer of this psalm. He turned his eyes back to God and away from the prosperity of the wicked. I would like to think he started to consider all the great things he already had in God for in the verse we are focusing on it reads: “Whom have I in heaven but You? There is nothing on earth I desire besides You” (Psalms 73:25).

The writer felt that God was more highly to be desired compared to all the wealth he saw of the wicked.

I have to ask myself if my desire for God is that high. Do I desire God above everything that is in heaven or on earth? There are many things I desire as I mentioned in the introduction. My desire is not to be rich. If I ever had money, I would give it to missionaries and help feed the hungry in Africa. However, I do have other desires; I believe we all have some desires. I would like to be a missionary without having to wonder about where the money is going to come from. I would like to be a best-selling author. (I would settle for making a profit from the novel I wrote.) I desire to be remembered for doing something positive with my life. I desire to have friends remember me and maybe take the initiative to call me instead of me calling them most of the time. I desire to live in a place of peace where I don’t have to wonder if I did everything right today.

There are many desires I have, and I wonder where God fits into those desires. I get so busy making sure I do what is required of me that I forget I’m loved by God just as I am. I will make mistakes from time to time. I may be misunderstood. I may be talked down to at times, but no matter how others think of me or how others ignore me, I still can have great comfort in knowing I’m greatly loved by God.

I’m speaking for myself right now, but when I look at my desires in life, some are the result of not trusting God as I should. I should have been in Alaska for only about three months. At least that was the original agreement. I was to raise a certain amount each month, and I basically wrote to James Barefoot and told him I would only have enough for three months. He mentioned that was fine, and I came to Alaska, arriving in March. Now it’s August, and I have been in Alaska close to six months. I have to believe that if God wants me to stay, then He will provide.

Then I think about what I really desire or want in life. It would be nice to be recognized for something such as winning a race or being a great writer. It would be great if I were leading people to Christ every day of the week. It would be wonderful to be a great guitar player and leading worship. Still, the greatest need and desire I have is to know I’m loved. This is what I think of when I read verse 25. This is how God is my greatest desire. I need that connection with others. I had that when I left for seminary in Chicago and when I spent about two years in Arizona. I believe it will happen here, as well; or at least that is something I pray about.

Our desire should be in knowing we are loved by God. Everything else fades in comparison to knowing we are greatly loved by God. Riches mean nothing compared to God’s love. Being popular means nothing when compared to knowing we are loved.

Many of you have similar desires, but then again there may be some different desires you consider. There could be a desire to be liked by others. There could be a desire to be connected to someone at school. There could be a desire to get the same opportunities others have. Maybe there is a desire to get a certain gift or school supply before school starts. Maybe it’s to be good at a certain sport this year or to score more points per game compared to last year.

There is nothing wrong with having a desire to be successful. If you have a job, you want to be good at it. If you start having kids, then you should desire to be a good parents. If you are a student, you should desire to get great grades. What should be our definition of success? What happens after you get all A’s on your report card? What happens when you finally are noticed by someone? There will be a great emptiness after achieving things such as being the best in your class, dating and marriage. Our desire should be for God alone, and to let Him fill you with His constant love and protection. Then when certain dreams fall apart, you still will have joy in your life because God is still with you and rejoicing over you. He not only loves you, but also likes you.

How much different life would be if we fixed our affections on God alone. The worst times in my life are the times when I felt I could fulfill my desire in other things besides God. I felt I could find pleasure in having certain things or being friends with certain people. Maybe if I was noticed by a certain group, I would be more content. I tried to be a people pleaser; and to this day it is something I need to be mindful of, or I’ll go in that direction. Everything I have strived for always has made these big promises, but fallen short of what I expected. Jesus has been the only desire to live up to the expectations I place on Him and then went far beyond those expectations. When my focus returns to Jesus, and when I only look to Him to satisfy my deepest desires, life is at its best. I don’t need to be envious of what others have, for I have Christ. I don’t need to be envious of what others are able to do with their lives, for I know I already achieved the greatest accomplishment; and that is simply believing Jesus died for my sins and rose on the third day. Knowing I’m greatly loved and liked by Him, all other desires fade in comparison.

There are a lot of things we can do to overcome envy, but the only cure is to get our focus back on God. We need to get our eyes off of others and remember how much God loves us. The greatest desire we have is to be loved. All other things we strive for attempt to meet this need, but everything will fall short. We need to look upon Jesus and be soaked in His great personal love. Do you believe Jesus loves you? Do you believe Jesus likes you? Jesus calls us His friend in the Book of John. In fact, the love the Father has for Jesus is the same love Jesus has for us. I have to think there is no way to measure the love the Father has for the Son, and there is no way we can measure the amount of love Jesus has for us. We can embrace that love today. He is reaching down to us. Will we reach up to Him?

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