Saturday, April 14, 2012

How Come People Without Jesus Seem Better Off Than Us?

I wonder if you have ever thought, "Why me"? Do you ever feel like all the bad stuff in this world always happens to you, that if anything is ever going to go wrong it will always happen to you? Ever look at someone who isn't serving Jesus and who doesn't appear to have any problems and think "That isn't fair"? Would you be surprised if I told you that you aren't alone?

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. (Psalm 73:2-3)

It is amazing how much trouble we can find ourselves in when envy comes knocking on our door. We compare our lives with others and suddenly we have that "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence" feeling. We look at how tough things are for us even though we are doing everything right with God and we imagine that other person's lives are perfect:

They have no struggles; 
   their bodies are healthy and strong. 
They are free from the burdens common to man; 
   they are not plagued by human ills. (vv. 4-5)

We really start to believe this and it begins bothering us:

This is what the wicked are like—    always carefree, they increase in wealth. (v. 12)

And because we are seeing life from this perspective a more dangerous thought starts to invade our relationships with God:

Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; 
   in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. 
All day long I have been plagued; 
   I have been punished every morning. (vv. 13-14)

This is crazy thinking and it happens when we start putting value on the wrong things in life. When we start seeing riches, possessions, fame, all things material of greater worth than our spirit we will end up in this position of envy. What we are envying is a pretty shallow life. It is one dimensional. As you get to know these "successful" and "famous" people you soon realize that all you see is all they have, whereas your riches are far greater even though they cannot be seen. Standing in such a place of envy is indeed a dangerous slippery slope.

We have something of far greater worth than a big house, fancy cars, nice clothes, glory and fame. We have the richness of knowing that we are loved and cherished by our Father:

Yet I am always with you; 
   you hold me by my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
   and afterward you will take me into glory. (vv. 23-24)

When we fix our eyes on Jesus we realize just how rich we are, how much life is better with him than without him. It is better to be a poor man in a poor house with Jesus than it is to be a rich man in a palace without him. I do not believe Jesus intends for us to be poor but you know what I mean here. We can be stripped of everything and have Jesus and we would still be richer than the richest man in this world:

Whom have I in heaven but you? 
   And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
   but God is the strength of my heart 
   and my portion forever. (vv. 25-26)

And the truth about those people we may have envied is that they are far from being in an envious position. Where our riches can never be taken away from us, theirs can disappear in an instant. How many times will we see these great men of wealth destroyed over night before we realize that we are in the best position a person can be in:

Surely you place them on slippery ground; 
   you cast them down to ruin. 
How suddenly are they destroyed, 
   completely swept away by terrors! 
As a dream when one awakes, 
   so when you arise, O Lord, 
   you will despise them as fantasies. (vv. 18-20)

So let us stop dreaming about other people's lives and live our own to God's glory. Let us throw off the bonds of envy and celebrate what we have in Jesus. He is more than enough for us. His riches are beyond our imagination and he says they are all for us. He has given us a peace that can never be taken from us. He is always with us and he is the song of our heart. The world has nothing to offer compared to Jesus.

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