A tranquil mind gives health to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30 (CJB)
En•vy (noun): A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. (Oxford English Dictionary Online)
“As a moth gnaws a garment, so does envy consume a man.”–Saint John Chrysostam
As part of my daily pre-dawn devotions, I not only read Scripture, but also rather eclectic devotional material. One recent day’s offering was an essay by R.J. Rushdoony where he discussed how we “feed on the bread of envy” in our culture and the spiritual consequences of that decision.
I am reminded of this essay each time I stand in line waiting to board an airplane, which for many months has been, on average, a once or twice-weekly occurrence. If you have done any amount of flying, you know airplanes are boarded in a specific order: those with disabilities or traveling with small children and needing extra time down the jetway; First Class passengers; those with Priority Access (Frequent Flyer status); finally the rest (sequentially) by assigned group, until everyone has crammed themselves and their carry-on luggage into that flying metal tube which will function as their “home” for the next couple of hours.
Listening to conversations of those who are impatient to get on board can be a real eye-opener, especially the “belly aching–grumbling–dripping with envy” comments about those fortunate enough to sit in First Class. Gets a bit comical sometimes.
Rushdoony is right–we live in a culture which feeds on the bread of envy. From advertisers and corporations whose goal it is to convince us we need all those things we don’t have, to a government which actively pits those who “have not” against those who “have” while manipulating the entire game behind the scenes, we are constantly encouraged to be dissatisfied with what we have, wanting what others do. Add to that a dash of what we “deserve,” have a “right” to, and are “owed,” the rest of the world sees us for what we are–spoiled and ungrateful for all we have been given.
Married to a man who for 25 of our 35 years together was a “road warrior,” I probably have a slightly different perspective on those who sit in First Class or who have Priority Access. I know that for most of these passengers, they aren’t there because they have money to burn. They usually sit in these seats because they work for a company which requires constant travel. Most of them upgrade to First Class using frequent flyer miles. Travel like this is brutal. The small bit of comfort available in First Class or that extra smidgen of peace and quiet when boarding early, is a welcome respite in the “glamorous” world of the corporate traveler filled with sterile hotels and lumpy pillows, mediocre restaurant meals, multi-hour layovers in airports crammed to the gills with grumpy people, missed flights, running between gates, and nights away from home.
So, why is this important to me?
Last week I became, in the eyes of at least some of my fellow passengers, one of the “haves.” No longer a “have not,” I have finally flown enough segments to achieve “Priority Access” status. Even though I am now potentially an object of other’s envy and scorn, I will board each plane knowing just how many flights and nights away from home it took for me to get there.
So, instead of feeling smug at my good fortune, I will thank Almighty God for this blessing, who I pray will continue to direct each pilot, choose each flight, guard each plane, and keep me safe by His grace.
And I will silently sing His PRAISE each step–
Down every jetway
And back again.
He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21 (NASB)
I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together. Psalm 32:1-3 (NASB)
Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Johnson
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