Treasuring the Things of God – My Daily Bread!
Our encouragement to follow Christ is taken from Psalm 73: 2-3, NIV and it says
“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
Does this sound familiar? I’m sure it does! Sometime or another we may have looked around and envied the advantages of others, especially those who do not call upon the name of the Lord and we may have wonder how did they get all ‘that’, they don’t even serve the Lord? A good friend of mind reminded me that we have all been there at some point in our lives; but the key is not to stay there for the effects can be devastating!
For the record, what is the definition of envy? The Online Free Dictionary describes envy as ‘to feel resentful or painful desire for another’s advantages or possessions’. Another word for envy is covet. Saints the resentful desire for others ‘stuff’ can lead to discontent with our own ‘stuff’ and circumstances. Our discontent if not checked can lead to other actions that are not pleasing to God.
There is a compelling story in the Word about a man who was envious and the horrible consequences of his actions to himself and his family. It is the story of Achan, which is told in the book of Joshua Chapter 7. Achan was of the tribe of Judah and when we first meet him, a terrible tragedy has just occurred to the Nation of Israel. The Israelites had just witnessed God’s victory at the city of Jericho where the walls of Jericho were shouted down; the Israelites first military campaign to conquer the Land of Canaan, the promised inheritance of Abraham. The tragedy however occurred when they attempted to take the City of Ai, a much smaller town, not far from Jericho. They were defeated! What happened?
God told them what the problem was, He said to Joshua “Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.” (vs. 11-13, NIV)
God had one caveat regarding the victory at Jericho; He expressly told them that everything in the city was to be destroyed except for Rahab and her family because she trusted in the Lord and helped the Israelite spies and the precious metals that were to be used in worship. Everything else, including the people, clothes, animals were to be destroyed (devoted to the Lord). (Joshua 6:15-19,NIV) God was enacting His Judgment on the Canaanite City of Jericho for their evil practices and idolatry; nothing was to remain of them to remind the Israelites of their gross rebellion against God. Someone had stolen something from the City of Jericho that should have been destroyed and now the entire nation stood in judgment.
When confronted Achan confessed and said “It is true, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done. When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” (vs 20-21, NIV)
Because of his sin, he along with his entire family and everything they possessed was destroyed! But there were other devastating consequences of his sin: many men died and the heart of God’s people melted in fear (vs. 5), Joshua questioned God (vs. 7-9) and God threatened to withdraw his presence from the Israelites (vs. 12). God made it clear that sin was in the camp and until it was dealt with He could not abide with them!
Achan lost everything, including his blessings from God. All of this sorrow stemmed from an intense desire to have something that was not his to have. His envy lead to thievery and then concealment (lying) – ultimately direct defiance of God’s express command. He may have thought that it was a small thing, but in the end, it proved to be bigger than life for him and his family.
Coveting and envy usually began with what we see with our eyes! And as the Psalmist said, can make us ‘almost slip’ or ‘nearly lose’ our way with our God! It can also affect others in our lives as well. At the core of an envious heart is a heart that does not trust in the Lord to know and provide what we need. So here is a sure remedy: Ask the Lord to increase your faith in Him, take your eyes off of others and their ‘stuff’ and count your blessing through the eyes of God with a view towards eternity. And remember, our riches are not measured as the world measures, but they are measured by the treasures of our Master, the King of the Universe who knows just what we need!
Copyright© 2011-2013 Colleen Holton All Rights Reserved.