This week we continue to more about the Laws of Boundaries, from the fifth chapter of the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It seems like the way America is and how we have all grown up. All over the television, on every billboard and on every commercial, we are told we deserve more than we have and we should get what makes us happy.
You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. – James 4:2
What has been your experience with envy?
What does envy have to do with boundaries?
Envy is probably the basest emotion we have. A direct result of the Fall, it was Satan’s sin.
You said to yourself,
“I’ll climb to heaven.
I’ll set my throne
over the stars of God.
I’ll run the assembly of angels
that meets on sacred Mount Zaphon.
I’ll climb to the top of the clouds.
I’ll take over as King of the Universe!”
Isaiah 14:13-14 MSG
Envy defines good as “what I don not possess” and hates the good that it has. What is so destructive about thsi sin is that it guarantees that we will not get what we want and keeps us perpetually insatiable and dissatisfied (p.99)
What things do you tend to envy the most? Are they friendships? Relationships? Material things? Health? Career?
As bad as envy is, it is not wrong to want things we do not have. People even use the truth of God’s word to justify their envious ways.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. – Psalm 37:4 NLT
The problem is with envy is that it focuses outside our boundaries onto others (p. 99)
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. – Galatians 6:4
What truth does Paul set forth in that verse? What is the focus we are called to here?
People without boundaries feel empty and unfulfilled. No matter how much they have, it is not enough. They look at other’s sense of fullness and feel envious. There is that battle we all face with the inner desires…
How do you handle your inner temptations and self-justifications? How do you decipher between wants, needs and must haves?
The time and energy spend in the spiral of envy needs to be spent on taking responsibility for our lack and doing something about it.
A few envious situations (p.100)
- A lonely person stays isolated and envious of the close relationships others have.
- A person withdraws from social life, envying the marriages and families of friends.
- A person chooses the righteous life, but envies and resents those who seem to be “having all the fun”.
Can you relate to any of those? Do you have another example?
Changing & Growing
Our envy should always be a sign to us that something is lacking in our life. When we feel envy, we need to ask God to help us understand what we resent, why we do not have whatever we are envying, and whether we truly need it. Ask God to show us how to get there or grieve what we cannot have and be content with what we do have.
What is God calling you, through this discussion, to do about what you lack? More specifically, what questions would you do well to ask yourself instead of envying others?
As we read earlier in James 4:2, God says “you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it”,
What is this verse calling you to make a topic of your prayer?