It’s bad enough I don’t have it but when I see you enjoying it, the dragon appears. This dragon was already whispering to me that I should have what you have, that I should find some way to get it for myself. When I noticed you have what I want, the dragon went into overdrive.
He whispered things to me. Things that made me feel lesser because you have what I want. Words that helped me see that if you have what I want and I don’t, somehow you win. Somehow that puts you ahead of me or above me or more loved than I or more powerful. The dragon’s words are very convincing.
In fact, even though I loved you, now I despise you. I want what you have so much I’m willing to destroy you, even though that won’t get me what you have. You can’t see what’s happening because I’m still smiling, wishing you well with my words, my expression, and my stance but in my eyes, there’s a fire-breathing dragon and he has us both in his sights. He loves this sword because it slices us both with a single glance.
I’m mentally picking your life apart looking for the holes, creating some when I can’t find them. The dragon suggests there are probably a thousand ways I’m better than you are and right now, I’m determined to find them. I recite them to myself – things real, rumored, or imagined, and though you don’t feel any smaller, I’m deconstructing you with my thoughts, wrapping myself in your failings like a warm blanket against the chill.
You have the figure I want, sure, but I’ll bet you’re miserable to live with so your marriage is probably struggling behind closed doors. Your family has the money I desire but I’ll bet your kids aren’t as perfect as they appear. You’re more talented and successful than I, but what worldly compromises did you have to make to achieve that? Hmph, I bet faith-wise you’re a fraud.
At this point, I no longer care who you are. Best friend. Sister or brother in the faith. Family. Coworker. Spiritual leader. Small group member. Total stranger. There are no boundaries when the dragon breaths fire into my mind. You have what I want and that makes you fair game. I don’t care if it separates us, diminishes my love and compassion, or even causes you pain. You have what I want, you see, so comfort yourself with that.
The dragon is artfully persuasive because he’s been having this conversation for a very long time. Abel had God’s approval for his sacrifice, which was a good thing. Unfortunately Cain wanted God’s approval and didn’t receive it. The dragon convinced Cain the best recourse would be to destroy Abel.
Sarah wanted a baby, the baby promised her by God. When her plan to fulfill His promise for Him resulted in her maidservant delivering Abraham’s child, the dragon incited Sarah to abuse the very girl she’d employed for the job. The Middle East is still reeling from the blows.
Rachel and Leah wanted babies, too. When Leah appeared to enjoy unending fertility, it sparked a rivalry that planted seeds of enmity affecting family dynamics and making Jacob’s love a sparse commodity among his sons.
Young Joseph had his father’s love. A father’s love is a good thing until someone else has it. His older brothers despised Joseph for having what they wanted. Things worsened when God gave Joseph a dream portending leadership in Joseph’s path. He shared the dream and this inspired his brothers’ dragons to conspire. The Bible records the moment with these ominous words, “So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.” Genesis 37:8b.
The dragon was still whispering when Jesus walked the earth. Pilate tried to get the crowds to call for Jesus’ release because “he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.” Mark 15:10
So, when I smile at you, thinking thoughts that tear you down for what you have that I do not, I am actually gestating death. James warns us, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:14-15
If envy flares like a flame or flits through my thoughts like a hummingbird, it confirms my humanity. If I allow envy to tarry, if I stoke its appetite with the pure oxygen of my own desires, I invite the dragon. The dragon is a sore loser. He has lost to Jesus so now, he is after us, making war against God’s people until He comes. We often become weapons against one another.
God always provides a way out of temptation and sin. The way out of envy is to take every thought captive. Confess the temptation. Submit to Jesus. Resist the devil. Ask for God’s heart for the one envied. Pray for that person for hours, for days, for months, until God’s love for him or her occupies your thoughts and fills your spirit leaving no room for envy.
Attune your ear to God’s voice. Silence every other. Especially the dragon. Entertain just a few strains of his song and it won’t be long before you’re singing his venomous tune. Envy is one of the dragon’s favorite weapons because with it, he destroys both the object of the envy and the one foolish enough to give envy a foothold.
How about you? Have you been visited by the dragon? Beware the double-edged sword you hear being sharpened even now in his lair. One edge has your name on it, my friend.
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) March 2, 2016