Better Than Me? I Envy No More
What Caused My Mild Anxiety?
In one evening, the breeze gently blew to the face, and made people feel cozy. Around a sparkling lake with several geese singing, there were many flowers among the grasses, and occasionally a few butterflies would gently touch the blooming flowers. Tourists around were all praising the beautiful scenery incessantly.
But at this moment, Nair had no heart to appreciate the scenery. While she was in her reminiscence, someone tapped hard on her shoulder, and she was suddenly brought back to reality She turned around and saw her long-lost friend Yuan Li. Nair hurriedly wiped away her tears, afraid her friend would see them, but how could Yuan Li not notice Nair’s obvious behavior? But Yuan Li asked nothing. After greetings, she said: “How about going to the gazebo and take a rest there?” Nair nodded. Yuan Li happily told Nair all the things that happened to her, but Nair only smiled slightly while listening to her stories. Afterward, Nair’s smile disappeared. Yuan Li followed her gaze and saw someone in royal blue admiring the scenery at the opposite. Yuan Li touched Nair’s arm and asked: “What is going on Nair? Who is she? Were you sad because of her just now on the bridge?” Nair at first did not want to open her heart, but Yuan Li was being so sincere, Nair told her that girl was her table-mate Mary, who was a transferred student. Before she came to Nair’s class, Nair was always the best in class, excelling in almost every category, and teachers and classmates all liked her. No matter where she went, everyone would look at her in admiration and with envy. She felt like a princess with a bright future lying ahead.
But (Nair’s started to look a bit down), Mary broke it all on her arrival. Mary’s studies, backgrounds and other aspects were all better than Nair, and teachers and classmates instead started to like Mary more. Nair felt uncomfortable and miserable because of envy, she thought that everyone no longer liked her because of Mary. Nair worked hard wanting to surpass Mary, but she was always the loser. Gradually, her envy grew and made her dislike Mary, even hate her, and wish not to see her at any time. Envy tortured Nair to be physically and mentally exhausted, she often wondered why God gave the best to Mary, but not to her. As a Christian, Nair knew she should not complain about God, should not be jealous of others, but she couldn’t put it into practice. From the day she became envious of Mary, Nair lost her smile and lived painfully, having no idea of what to do. Speaking of that, Nair was already crying sadly. Yuan Li patted on her back to comfort her.
Beautiful Smile Bloomed for the First Time
Later, Yuan Li said: “Nair, I can feel your pain, but as Christians, we all know that what God creates is good. We need to learn how to properly treat others and ourselves, and should not complain about God and envious of others. God said: ‘The functions are not the same. There is one body. Each does his duty, each in his place and doing his very best—for each spark there is one flash of light—and seeking maturity in life. Thus will I be satisfied.’ ‘What does God orchestrate these things for? It is not to reveal your shortcomings or to expose you; exposing you is not the end goal. The end goal is to perfect you and save you. How does God do that? Firstly, He makes you aware of your own corrupt disposition, of your nature and essence, your shortcomings, and what you lack. Only by understanding these things in your heart can you pursue the truth and gradually cast off your corrupt disposition. … God works in every single person, and no matter what His method is, what kind of people, things and matters He makes use of to do service, or what kind of tone His words have, He only has one end goal: saving you. Saving you means transforming you, so how could you not suffer a bit? You’re going to have to suffer. This suffering can involve many things. Sometimes God raises up the people, matters, and things around you to expose you, to allow you to know yourself, or else He directly deals with you, prunes you, and exposes you. Just like someone on an operating table–you have to undergo some pain for a good outcome. If every time God prunes and deals with you and every time He raises up people, matters, and things, it stirs up your feelings and gives you a boost, then experiencing it this way is correct, and you will have stature and will enter into the reality of the truth.’
Nair, we are all created by God and given different talents, everyone has their own functions and missions. We need to submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and do what we should do. You’re placed in this situation to experience, this contains God’s good will. God arranged people who are better than us around us, first to give us space to grow so that we can learn from others’ strengths to remedy our weaknesses, second to reveal our corrupt disposition: We’re envious of others’ strengths, this behavior shows our lack of normal humanity. When we are struggling in pain, we’ll realize that Satan has corrupted us so deeply; this is a good opportunity for us to know ourselves and get rid of our corrupt disposition. Nair, let’s pray more often to God. I believe God will lead us in our experiences, let us understand the truth and overcome our envy. Actually, God has also given us many things, we should learn to be content.”
After hearing what Yuan Li said, Nair was left in deep thoughts: “It is true that God has given me a lot, though I’m not so excellent as Mary, I still understand somewhat of the situation. God created me and my existence has value and meaning. Just like what Yuan Li said, I should not be too ambitious and need to learn to be content.”
With that in mind, Nair smiled again and said happily to Yuan Li: “Thank you so much Yuan Li. Now I know God’s creation of me is meaningful, the situation arranged by God today is to save me, I should not escape but should face it. Every time when I’m envious, I should pray more to God, and not let envy take over me.”
With the sun setting, the sky started to get darker. They bid farewell and agreed to meet at Yuan Li’s house next Friday. After the gathering, Nair walked home cheerfully. There were few people on her way back and the cold wind was even blowing, but Nair did not feel cold at all because her heart was warm. She found a way to walk out of the misery and her envy of others!
Trace of Anxiety Still Remains in Heart
The next day, Nair woke up early. She came before God and prayed to God sincerely. Afterward, Nair crooned her way to school. Her classmates were surprised to see her smile, Nair smiled at them and did not say a word. A while later, Mary came into the classroom, some classmates ran to her and asked her to help them with some math questions. Nair’s quiet heart became disturbed and she became envious again. Nair realized she was wrong and quickly prayed to God silently, wishing God could protect her heart and thoughts. After praying, Nair felt her heart calmed down. A moment later, the teacher came in and greeted Mary warmly but gave Nair an impatient look. Nair felt upset, she prayed silently to let God quiet her heart. In class, when the teacher asked questions, Mary answered them actively, but Nair could not quite understand them. During the art and craft lesson, Mary made nice crafts but Nair’s was horrible. Classmates were looking at Nair with a puzzled look, which made Nair feel more awkward.
Finally, a day of lessons was over and Nair quickly ran back home. At home, Nair could not hold her tears anymore and cried out. Nair was clueless: Why couldn’t she break free from envy after having tried so hard to pray to and rely on God? Nair said in her: “God, envy always happens to me, and I do not know how to practice. O God, what can I do? Why am I firmly gripped by envy? How can I break free from the bondage of envy? O God….’’
Nair hoped the next Friday would come faster, she expected Yuan Li to fellowship with her.
Inner Shackles Finally Released
At last, Friday came. After school, Nair rushed to Yuan Li’s house. Yuan Li saw Nair was very upset, she asked puzzledly: “Nair, what happened?” Nair cried and ranted to her. Yuan Li asked: “Nair, why are you jealous of Mary?” Nair thought and said: “Because she took over my spotlight and is better than me in everything.” Yuan Li then said: “Nair, have you ever thought why do you compete with others? Is it necessary? Let me read you a passage of God’s words.”
Nair nodded, Yuan Li read: “When you see someone stand out, you are jealous, feel hatred, and feel it is unfair. ‘Why can’t I stand out? Why is it always he who gets to stand out and it’s never my turn?’ There is some resentment. You try to repress the resentment, but you can’t, so you pray. After praying, you feel better for a little while, but later when you encounter the matter again you cannot overcome it. Is this not a case of immature stature? Is not a person’s falling into these conditions a trap? This is the bondage of a corrupt nature of Satan. If a person has cast off these corrupt dispositions, is he then free and liberated? Ponder this: What kind of changes must a person make if he wants to refrain from falling into these conditions and free himself of the vexations of these things? What must a person obtain before he can free himself of the bonds of these things, and be able truly to be free and liberated? On one hand, a person must see through things: These fame and fortune and positions are tools and methods for Satan to corrupt people, to entrap them, to harm them, and to cause their degeneration. You must first see this clearly in theory. … If you are always focusing on these things, always struggling for these things, if your heart is fully occupied with these things, if you always harbor them and never want to put them aside, then you are being controlled by and bound by these things. You have become a slave, and you cannot give them up. You must learn to give up and set aside these things, to yield, to recommend others, to allow them to stand out. Do not struggle furiously and rush to take advantage as soon as you encounter an opportunity to stand out or obtain honor. Learn to back off, but do not delay the performing of your duty. Be a person who performs his duty out of the public eye, and who does not show off before others. The more you give up and set aside, the more peaceful your heart will be and the more space will open up within it, and the more your condition will improve. The more you struggle and compete, the darker will be your condition; try it if you don’t believe it.”
Afterward, Yuan Li said: “From God’s words we can see that we would be envious of others because we are not satisfied with our position and fame, having lost our chance to stand out or obtain honor. This is also Satan using fame and position as a method to torture us. If we lived in this kind of situation, we will only feel more and more tired and painful. Now the only thing we can do is to practice in a way that God wants us to. Do things before God rather than before people, accept God’s examination, and don’t focus on how others see us.”
Nair nodded and spoke reflectively: “You’re right, I always focus on how others see me and is envious that Mary has taken my spotlight and is better than me in everything. I want to leave others a good impression, wishing everyone to listen to me, pay attention to me and pamper me. Isn’t it like how the archangel fought with God for position? Now I’ve understood that I need to accept God’s examinations in doing things and conducting myself, living before God, and then I can live free.”
Yuan Li nodded and said: “Absolutely, we do need to deal with envy. I remember it’s fellowshipped in the Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life: ‘People filling with too deep envy are narrow-minded and too wicked in nature! They will not attain salvation.’ ‘Being envious of people who are better than them and apt to envy is rather common among young people. As for those who are forty to sixty years old, they usually do not harbor bitter envy of others. We should admire and advocate those capable ones who are better than us, and learn from them. It’s no big deal, isn’t it? The younger the people, the stronger their envy and competitiveness are. Therefore, the young people having severe envy should restrain it. What will be the likely result of feeling envy? (Discrimination, suppression, and judgement of others.) For people with good humanity and kind heart, if they were unhappy with others, they will only hate them awhile; if you judge others, exclude and depreciate them because of envy, then you’re attacking them, and aggression out of envy is evildoing. … So would serious envy ruin your life? You must learn to be generous and tolerant, not fighting for power and position, as they are vanity.’ From the fellowship, we’ve understood the importance of getting rid of envy, which will ruin us, will make us complain and misunderstand God, and lose the guidance and the work of the Holy Spirit. We could even be rejected by God. So, we must put God’s words into practice and live before God, not letting envy control us again.
Nair, I actually experienced this kind of bad situation before. I was envious of my classmates, lived in pain and complaints, and had no idea of what to do. So I came before God and told Him my difficulties. Afterward, I was able to understand with my cousin’s help. The book “Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life” has two passages which I found helpful, and they helped me to overcome envy. Nair, would you like to read them as well?”
Nair nodded, received the book and read: “Some people said: ‘Sometimes we cannot overcome the situation. When we see people who’re better than us, we will become envious and angry. Even on seeing them, we feel like it’s no way to live. What should we do facing these problems?’ How about praying to God to curse yourselves? How to pray? You say: ‘I cannot stand people doing better than me. I’m such a bad person! These type of people don’t deserve to live. I’m envious of people who are better than me, how evil my heart is! This is not normal humanity. May God discipline and deal with me.’ Afterward, pray again: ‘God, please save me from being narrow-minded, let me become more generous and forgiving and live with normal humanity, so as to not humiliate You.’ Just pray like this. Pray for a period of time and you will probably realize you have become more and more generous. When you face people who are better than you, you will not feel as envious as before, you will be more tolerant, able to get along with them and be normal again. We’ll be blessed and live abundantly when we have normal humanity; we’ll be in pain and exhaustion if we are too narrow-minded. No matter what kind of corrupt disposition, problems, or deficiencies we have, we must pray. On one hand, we need to seek the truth, using truth to treat everything. On the other hand, we need to pray and call upon God for salvation. Once we pray, our attitude would change, we would be more sensible. It won’t do without praying.” “Do you think if it’s possible to change envy into admiration? You just try to think wisely: ‘Isn’t it a good thing that some people are better than us? We can learn from their strength, we can ask them our doubts and learn from them, isn’t this another path for us!’”
Then, Yuan Li said: “At that time, I understood that in order to get rid of envy, I first need to pray to God with a heart of searching the truth, telling Him my difficulties and entrusting them into His hands instead of requiring Him, and second, I needed to search the truth of this aspect, treating people and things around me with the truth. In this way, my envy could become weaker and weaker and I would not live in such deep exhaustion. Furthermore, with someone better out there, I would have a role model, who can clear my doubts, and I could gain a lot from the process.
After knowing all those points, I started to practice. When I was envious of my classmate, I would pray to God sincerely, entrust my difficulties to God, and find related truths when I came back home. I began to observe her strengths and learn from her. Unknowingly, I gained a lot of qualities which I lacked of. For example, having patience and love, being helpful, and etc. When I’m willing to learn from her strengths instead of having envy of her, I felt released and free, living no more in pain and exhaustion, and our relationships were getting better.”
Nair listened and said: “Thank God! After reading all those words and listening to your experiences, I know how to practice now. Someone better than me around can act as an encouragement to me, and I should learn to accept the fact, treat properly everything and everyone, including my classmate Mary, and pursue transformation in my corrupt dispositions. Recalling the ancient Zhou Yu, he always competed with Zhuge Liang, but was always defeated. He was not willing to lose to Zhuge Liang again and again, and sighed out of envy: ‘Since Yu was born, why was Liang ever born?’ Zhou Yu was tortured to death because of his envy and jealousy. I see that envy will only ruin us and will not bring us any happiness at all. God has given us different qualities and we have different functions to perform. I should obey God, treat others and myself with correct attitude, this is something required for normal humanity.” Yuan Li and Nair both smiled in joy.
So Relived Without Envy
Soon it was Monday again, Nair carried her backpack and went to school delightfully. Mary came as Nair just got to her seat. Nair greeted Mary happily, Mary was kind of surprised, but she still greeted back. Later, classmates arrived one after another, all greeted Mary. Nair started to feel a little upset, but she quickly came before God to pray and quiet her heart. During lessons, Mary was able to answer a question from teacher while Nair was still in doubt. Classmates all looked at Mary with envy in their eyes. Nair felt kind of bad, but she thought again: Since Mary knows, I should ask her, this is something I should do. Afterward, Nair took the courage to ask Mary, and Mary was very happy to help her. Nair realized when she put down her envy, her heart was very steady, she didn’t have that kind of feeling before. Since then, Nair asked Mary whenever she was in doubt and felt she gained so much, feeling happy from her heart. They also became from classmates to best friends.
On Saturday, Nair alone went to the white stone-arch bridge, looking at the same sparkling lake and those geese. But now she felt released and peaceful, because she had broken free from envy.
From the time when she was willing to put down her envy and started to learn from Mary, Nair found that she had learned how to be more patient, tolerant, and helpful during the process. Furthermore, she knew how to quiet herself before God. These are all something Nair never experienced before. She opened her arms, feeling completely released and sighed with emotion: Now I see that I can live so happily as well!