By Linda Tancs

The temptation toward self-sufficient materialism expresses itself in our culture today (particularly in a capitalist, consumer-driven society) with the old “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. How often do you envy what someone else has or has done? How does it influence your own behavior? Do you buy the same brand of car as your colleagues, particularly if your occupation dictates the kind of car you should be driving? Do you enroll your children in the same activities or school as those you admire? Even the disciples started an argument among them as to who would be the greatest (Luke 9:46-48).

Healthy competition is one thing, but rivalry amounts to chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 4:4-6). In fact, Philippians 2:3-4 warns against doing anything out of rivalry and conceit. Why? Because it’s so dangerous. It manifests in an upset of the love people/use things equilibrium. When one desires to be on a par with everyone else, the result is often using people to get more of the things one loves, failing to recognize that other people or circumstances do not dictate our riches. Only God gives, and God can take away (Job 1:21).

Measure yourself by God’s standards, not those of others (Galatians 6:4). You’re a marvelous work of God (Ephesians 2:10) with your own gifts and talents. Use your gifts in service to others and you’ll be less likely to fall prey to the kind of envy that rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30).

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