I knew I was being unreasonable, but I couldn’t seem to help the fact that the news I had just heard about a surprise provision my friends were about to receive set my teeth on edge.
I felt we deserved it more. (How about that for brutal honesty?)
Yes, I was unreasonable. But even chastising myself didn’t seem to work. So, I began to reason with myself. That didn’t work either. My heart was bitter and I knew it.
I knelt in prayer by my bed, buried my head in my hands, and cried out to the Lord for peace. What He spoke to me in that moment was one of the most profound things I have ever heard from him:
“Your heart is bitter because it is full of envy. You have broken the 10th commandment and you need to repent.”
Of all the things I supposed God would say, I didn’t expect that! But it was true. The more I thought about the situation, the more I knew that envy was at the root of my bitterness.
In that moment I truly repented, and what followed was a phenomenon I had always heard of but had personally never experienced.
I stood up and my heart was immediately light. The bitterness, heaviness and anger were gone in a moment! I suddenly related to every testimony I had heard about a person’s “weight being lifted”.
Gratefulness is the antithesis of envy. It is simply impossible to be grateful and envious at the same time. When we are grateful for what we have, we can rejoice for what others have or receive with true joy, knowing that the Lord has provided us everything we need in life.
And the ability to live gratefully is not a gift, nor is it a personality trait. It is a character quality that must be built and learned. It must be cultivated day by day with intention to reject the ads, commercials and billboards that continually shout out that we will be happy and fulfilled when we buy what they are peddling.
Paul referred to this when he said in Philippians 4:11-12: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Can we say these words with sincerity? Do we know how to be content even when we are hungry? Do we know who to be content, even when we suffer with need? Or do we grow bitter and cynical? Do we complain about the economy and blame minimum wage?
Do we place our security in a nice paycheck and a savings account, or do we trust in the Lord to provide what we need? When we are unable to buy what we want, do we trust that the Lord has chosen not to give us the ability to buy it, because perhaps He feels we don’t need that item right now?
These are all questions I have been pondering in my own heart, because I desire to live at an even greater level of contentment and thankfulness – because I know that a content heart is a heart that is at peace.
As we move toward Thanksgiving Day, we are reminded of the treasures we have been given; but are we thankful and grateful from December to October? It shouldn’t be a moment in our lives once a year, but rather a lifestyle we live continually – ever more grateful; ever more thankful to the Lord for His continual blessing even when we don’t deserve it.
Since that day, I have been reminded multiple times of that moment when I repented for my envy and the tremendous joy it gave when I knew for certain that I could rejoice with my friends, who already had so much, because I too have been blessed so much more than I could ever describe or imagine.
Gratefulness turned my bitter heart sweet. That, too, was an unexpected blessing.