Nicole: What do we do with a good, yet unfulfilled longing that won't go away? First, we thank God that by His mercy we desire one of His good gifts.
However, we must also regulate our desires. We must not love or long for one of God's good gifts more than we love or long for God Himself. If we do, then we have essentially made an idol out of this good desire and we are worshiping it instead of God. As teacher David Powlison paraphrases the eminent John Calvin: "The evil in our desires often lies not in what we want but that we want it too much."
One sure indicator as to whether or not a good desire has morphed into an idol is how we respond when someone else gets the very thing that we want but don't have. When a close friend--who was perfectly happy to be single--up and gets married, and we are, literally, left behind. Or when, as is the case for a friend of mine, we know five other girls who are pregnant and we are not.
And what about the woman who gets married younger than us, whose job is more glamorous than ours, whose house is bigger than ours, whose marriage is better than ours, whose life is easier than ours, whose children are more well-behaved than ours, whose popularity is brighter than ours, whose intelligence is greater than ours? Need I go on?
Envy is a sin common to women. But do we always see it for the rancid evil that it is? Several months ago, I found myself envying another woman's happiness. My husband encouraged me to study the topic of envy, and gave me some material to read. In the course of my study, the following string of thoughts by Cornelius Plantinga hit me straight between the eyes. Buckle your seat belt, for these are hard, yet necessary words.
"What an envier wants is not, first of all, what another has; what an envier wants is for another not to have it...The envier has empty hands and therefore wants to empty the hands of the envied. Envy, moreover, carries overtones of personal resentment; an envier resents not only somebody else's blessing but also the one who has been blessed."
Upon reading those words, I didn't want to admit that was me, that what I actually wanted was to empty someone else's hands. But that was the truth of it. A good desire gone bad is often characterized by these wicked motives.
No wonder Scripture commands us to "Put away all...envy!" (1 Pet. 2:1) What wretched women we are! And yet, as Paul exclaims, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom 7:25) We who have repented of our sins and put our trust in Christ are no longer bound by the sin of envy. We can receive forgiveness and cleansing and grace to change--grace to truly rejoice with those who have been blessed!
How do we get there?
Check it out. :)