Our pastor has been speaking for the last few weeks about ways in which Jesus described God, His Father. This past weekend he spoke of God’s GENEROUS nature. I like it when God is generous to me. But I find that when God seems MORE generous to someone else, I hear the voice of ENVY screaming with me, “It’s not fair!” At times, do you hear this same voice inside you?
There is always going to be someone who has more money than me, is smarter than me, or enjoys better health than me. Every time I turn on the television, I am bombarded with advertisements that seek to convince me that “I deserve to have it my way.” That may be fine when it comes to burgers, but that’s a terrible way to live. Envy is not just a childhood disease; it doesn’t miraculously disappear when we become adults. In fact, if we don’t master this monster of Envy, we will grow old as ungrateful, complaining people.
I think there are a couple of ways to quiet Envy’s voice. The first is THANKFULNESS. Instead of focusing on what others have that I don’t, I need to look around at what I do have. When I take time to think of my wife and children, the physical items I have acquired, and the abilities that I do have, I become thankful to God for these many blessings. As a follower of Christ, this is to be a way of life, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
The second weapon in my arsenal to combat Envy is even more effective. It is understanding GRACE. At its most basic root, grace means “undeserved favor.” When I realize that I don’t deserve God’s blessings, then I’m able to recognize how much He has given me. I encourage you to read the story Jesus told to illustrate grace and God’s generosity. It is recorded in Matthew 20.
A landowner hires men early in the morning to work in his fields. Throughout the day he continues to hire more workers. With only an hour left, he hires still more. When it comes time to pay the workers their wages, the last ones hired are paid first. To their surprise, they receive a full-day’s wage. When the ones who have labored all day receive the same amount, they start to complain. But the landowner has paid them what they originally agreed upon. He exposes their Envy when he replies, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
Jesus wanted His hearers to understand that God extends grace to each one of us. The crux of the story is not an employment strategy. It’s not how long one works or whether God is fair in the way He bestows His gifts. The point is that God offers the same salvation to everyone. Whether you are a young child or an old man close to the end of your days, salvation is enjoyed only one way, by GRACE. We neither earn our way to Heaven, nor are we deserving to go there. It is offered to us entirely as a gift by faith, fully paid by the sacrifice of Jesus. Such a salvation is offered to all people because God is GENEROUS!