Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here’s Melissa Kruger. 

Melissa Kruger: I need so much more, relationally, than my husband can provide. He is never going to be enough, and if I want him to be enough, I’m never going to enjoy him. And so, cultivating that relationship with the Lord through the Word and prayer—remembering how deeply loved I am by Him—for me, that’s the only way to not put more on other relationships.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Holiness, for Thursday, August 17, 2017.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If you don’t truly trust God, you’ll find yourself looking for contentment and satisfaction in other places. That’s where envy and discontentment begin to take root.

Yesterday, Erin Davis talked about all of this and more with Melissa Kruger. Melissa is the author of The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World.

Now, I know we all feel a strong pull toward comparing ourselves with others, whether it’s on social media or just in one-on-one interaction. But as you listen to today’s conversation, I hope you’ll discover the joy and the peace that come from replacing envy with contentment.

Now let’s listen to this conversation that Erin and Melissa recorded at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference.

Erin Davis: So you (Melissa) dedicate the second half of the book to kind of these categories of coveting, and I thought that was helpful (maybe that’s because I’m a type AA personality: I like lists I can check!). Let’s just walk through them.

You talk about coveting money and possessions, and you give this list in the book that I think is so helpful (I’m just going to read through it) of different truths we might believe:

  • Money equals security.
  • Money equals happiness.
  • Money equals relational peace (if we could just get our bank account filled our marriage wouldn’t be strained, our children would get along—whatever).
  • Money equals comfort.
  • Money equals respect.
  • Money equals pleasure.
  • Money equals experiences.
  • Money equals possessions.
  • Money equals reward.

And then you flipped it with what happens if you replace that word “money” with “knowing God,” and I thought that was so powerful! Because:

  • Knowing God equals security.
  • Knowing God equals happiness.
  • Knowing God equals peace.
  • Knowing God equals respect. 

I think that is helpful as we try to explore, “Am I coveting money or possessions?” or “What do I think will finally make me happy?” Is it a higher salary . . . or whatever? Do I think that some thing or dollar amount will make me happy? And you give the example of Judas as someone who coveted money and possessions.

Melissa: Yes. I had never really traced his whole story, and these little hints of it are in the Gospels. He was the keeper of the money bag, and he had quietly been taking money from it. His big frustration, the moment of what happened before he went to the Chief Priest, was when Mary came in with that alabaster jar that was worth a whole year’s of wages. She breaks it on Jesus’ feet, worshiping Him, preparing Him for His burial—and he is angry! “Couldn’t that money be given to the poor!?” This is his question that he is asking. You see, he knows exactly how much that costs, and he is concerned it did not go in his money bag!

That is what prompts him to go to the Chief Priest and give Jesus up. So he looks for these coins—and he misses the Treasure! It’s what we so often can do. He had the Treasure of the Ages before him, and he missed it all for thirty silver coins. 

Erin: I think about those of us who live in affluent America, and “more, more, more” never satisfies—and it didn’t for Judas, either. I believe Judas was riddled with tremendous regret. I don’t know if he repented, but certainly he had tremendous regret.

He ended up giving back the money he thought would satisfy. It didn’t satisfy.

Melissa: Exactly. It didn’t. It didn’t satisfy. And that’s the thing: There are plenty of famous people who have gotten all that money can provide. Why do they turn to drugs? Why do they turn to relationship after relationship after relationship? They are looking for something that is not being satisfied by money.

If money could have satisfied us, it would have been a lot less painful than the cross! God could have just given us a lot of money, and He chose instead to give His Son.

Erin: Can you give one practical action step to the woman listening who thinks: It’s money. Where I covet is money or possessions. I know there’s no easy fix—I’m not asking for that—but what’s one thing she can do?

Melissa: Often I go back to the simple answer that’s often the hard answer—is to pray and praise. I would say giving thanks for the things God has given us actually reminds our hearts that they came from Him anyway.

When we pray, even thanking God for our meal, it reminds us, “This meal wasn’t a right. This was a gift from God.” A lot of us (not everyone) live with pantries full; we’re kind of trying to clear them out, because we’ve got stuff that we probably shouldn’t be eating in them. I do.

But the reality is, many people in the world don’t have that. Taking the time to be thankful for the things we have, rather than always focusing on what we don’t have . . . I think that type of attitude really glorifies God. It says, “I’m thankful for what I have,” and it breeds contentment in our heart about possessions.

Erin: Don’t you love how little children pray? “Thank You for my puppy, and thank You for my grandma, and thank You for my teddy bear, and thank You for my bed.” It’s simple and adorable, but I think also—maybe—keeps envy from digging down as deeply into their hearts.

Melissa: That’s right. Being thankful, I think, is one of the biggest antidotes for this.

Erin: Yep, good place to start! Then you address the category of coveting in romantic relationships, and you use David—the poster child for this. And you trace that pattern of “see, want, take, hide.” Can you trace that for us, in David’s life?

Melissa: He saw Bathsheba. Here’s a man who had a lot of wives, but he saw her—she was beautiful. He clearly lusted after her because he saw her bathing, so I’m assuming it was probably pretty lustful.

He coveted her, he took her—and he knew she was married to someone else. Then when he got caught (because Uriah was at war, and so Bathsheba shouldn’t be pregnant—and she gets pregnant), he hides by killing Uriah—putting him on the front lines. So we see this direct pattern.

I think one of the best things about the world we live in, where you feel like anybody could be videoing anything at all times, is it is a subtle reminder that all our actions are seen. There really is no hiding. It feels more so in our world today; you feel like “big brother” is always watching somewhere! 

But that’s a helpful reminder that God really does see us. He sees all the things we think we’re hiding, and it’s helpful just to be reminded of that. He sees if we’re having an emotional affair with another man—even if we never do anything.

He sees what’s going on in our heart—not in a way that He’s going to strike us down with lightning—but in a way that we can go to Him and confess. There’s no fear there, because He already knows.

Erin: It doesn’t have to be an affair. You gave this example, which I so resonated with: You’re in church, and there’s this couple in front of you with this sweet new baby. The husband just puts his arm around the wife in an affectionate way, and you felt covetousness rise up in you.

Melissa: I was like, “Look at them! They love each other so sweetly! My husband never puts his arm around me! What’s wrong with me?” Rather than just accepting, “That’s not us, and that’s okay.”

You see that somebody else’s husband brought roses, or flowers, “just because.” And you’re thinking, Do we have a ‘just because’ day in our marriage? Or romantic comedies, I think, can be the worst for us women sometimes.

Erin: I agree, or a lot of books that are out there. Then you go home and you fight with your wonderful husband because he doesn’t meet some expectation! (Or at least I do; I don’t know if you do.)

Melissa: Yes, exactly. “You do not act like Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail—"So you must not love me!" And he’s like, “When did this fight begin!? Did I miss something?”

Erin: “What are we talking about here?”

How do you create a new pattern if you gravitate toward coveting in romantic relationships?

Melissa: I think for this one, it is cultivating and keeping our relationship with Jesus the first thing in our lives. He alone can bear the weight of what we need. I need so much more, relationally, than my husband can provide. He is never going to be enough, and if I want him to be enough, I am never going to enjoy him.

So cultivating that relationship with the Lord through the Word and prayer, remembering how deeply loved I am by Him. For me, that’s the only way to not put more on other relationships.

Erin: That’s good. The third category is coveting within family and friendships, and you use the example of Joseph—really Joseph’s brothers. Show us that pattern you’ve been illustrating for us in Joseph’s life.

Melissa: Joseph’s brothers saw that he had gotten this lovely new coat of colors, and they knew what it represented . . .

Erin: Favor!

Melissa: Yes, they knew that Joseph was the favored brother. So they coveted, they wanted it. They took their brother and put him in a pit and sold him into slavery. And then, how did they hide it? They got that coat; they drenched it in blood, and they said wild animals had come after their brother.

Erin: They destroyed the thing that ignited their covetousness. They didn’t even wear the coat!

Melissa: Exactly. And isn’t that the interesting thing? None of them got the favor; all they got was a broken-hearted father. It shows that they all wanted the same thing. But, then, you’ve got to wonder if they’re all a little bit concerned: “What if I become the new favored child? Are they going to throw me in a pit, too?” It’s not like it went well!

Erin: It had to have fractured their family. It was a normal family, with layers of dysfunction like we all have, but it had to have caused that fracture to just be deeper, and the chasm to be harder to cross.

Melissa: That’s right. And I think we do that when we place too much emphasis on what our families should look like, what those relationships should bring to us. It can really cause a lot of pain and brokenness, because we act out around each other.

Erin: You talk several times in the book that sometimes covetousness—often—is born out of an okay desire, and then the desire gets out of control. So I’m wondering, specifically to family and friendship, what is it that we as women crave (and sometimes that’s an okay desire) that can turn into covetousness.

Melissa: I think we crave community, which we were created to be in. God saw Adam—it wasn’t good that he was alone—so He created Eve. We’re not alone as people in the church. We need a body, and He actually relates it to family language.

Paul talked about sons in the faith, and we have brothers in the faith—and we have mothers and sisters and children in the faith. That’s normal language, familiar language. We’re created to need relationships from one another. That’s a good thing.

Once again, it’s similar to the romantic. When we start wanting those people to care for us enough, love us enough, fulfill us enough, we’re going to always come back to find discontentment growing in our heart—because they just can’t satisfy. 

They can’t know. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that moment (I have) when you wonder, Does anybody know I’m hurting? How could they? They’re not omniscient; they can’t know everything like God can. But God can always know.

But we expect our friends to know. I do this terribly with my husband: “Don’t you know exactly what I need, when I need it, every time?”

Erin: And we want them to know it without us telling them.

Melissa: Exactly! Because if I tell you, that takes the whole steam out of it. It’s like, “You have to magically know!”

Erin: Right, and the same with our friends. I think every woman (I can’t speak to men) feels like, at times, Nobody’s thinking of me! Nobody cares about what I’m going through! And that may or may not be true; probably most often it’s not. But they don’t know that you’re struggling, they can’t know. 

Another category of coveting that I want to touch on is giftedness and abilities. I think that hits below the belt for a lot of us in the church, but it’s good. We love that God’s given us gifts. We love that He’s given us abilities, but it gets twisted into coveting. I wonder how you’ve seen that in your own life or in women’s lives.

Melissa: Yes, I definitely have. When I see someone sing beautifully up front—I mean, I do not have that gift. It’s so obvious that I don’t have that gift, and I’m like, “Oh, that’s a wonderful gift! It seems joyful. They seem so happy when they’re singing!”

And yet, I think sometimes we can look at positions that are more up front or “out there,” and we think, Oh, wow, that must be amazing to be in that position. But the reality is, God’s gifted us all differently, and every part of the body is just as important as the others—even though some you see more often—those other parts have vital importance in the life of the church.

And I think what it really is, we think of them as our own rather than just thinking of them as gifts. That’s the real crux.

Erin: Romans 12 teaches us that our gifts are for the good of all; they’re not ours to hoard. If I tend towards an area of covetousness, it’s this—other people’s gifts and abilities. But as I trace it to the root of unbelief, I see that I don’t really believe 1 Corinthians 12—which is that all parts are necessary. I don’t really believe that the workers are few and the harvest is ready.

If I really believed those things, I could just celebrate every gift you have and every gift she has and every gift she has because it’s all for the good of the body. It’s all essential, and the harvest is ready and the workers are few.

I think to that woman who’s struggling with coveting another woman’s gift, those are the passages that I would drive her to. Would you have anything to add there?

Melissa: I would say, one thing that really helps me is that when I see you succeed, I say to myself, That’s my team! You winning is me winning!”—because we’re in the same body. Therefore, I can really rejoice with them, because we’re winning together—we’re winning the kingdom, and I love that!

When I see someone succeeding in the faith, it’s the gospel—it’s the kingdom going forward! So it’s really saying I’m not a kingdom player when I want it just to be me leading the kingdom in some ways. The ultimately reality is, it’s all pointing to God’s glory. So it shows I’m really seeking my own glory.

Nancy: We’ve been listening to a conversation between Erin Davis and Melissa Kruger. Melissa’s the author of The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World.

As we’ve heard this week, this topic of envy touches on so many other subjects—such as finances, social media, and our material possessions. But, ultimately, this issue is all about God Himself. Do we really trust Him, or are we looking to others to give us our significance?

Melissa Kruger explores all this in her book The Envy of Eve. I hope you’ll get a copy and learn to recognize any roots of envy that may exist in your heart . . . and then to replace that envy with the peace that comes from finding contentment in Christ.

When you support Revive Our Hearts financially, you’re helping women around the world discover that same peace and contentment in Christ. When you make a gift of any size to Revive Our Hearts this week, we’d like to send you a copy of Melissa’s book.

Be sure to ask for it, The Envy of Eve, when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Tomorrow we return to the letters to the churches in Revelation. Do you know what it means to feel alone? Jesus went through that. We’ll explore His suffering and loneliness tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

And now, to close this series on envy, we’re going to revisit a portion of a program from the archives—that you can find anytime at ReviveOurHearts.com. Just search for “Envy Is Your Enemy.” Here’s Nancy with a love test from 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

Nancy:

Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. It does not behave rudely, does not seek its own; is not provoked; thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8, NKJV).

Now, human love will fail, to be sure. But God’s love goes on and on and on; it is permanent, it is enduring.

We’re looking today at that third characteristic of love, in this love test. “Love does not envy; love is not jealous.” Love is not envious for the possessions of others. In fact, it can rejoice with those who have greater resources, greater position or greater abilities.

I think one of the most difficult commands in the Word of God for us to obey—and one of the ones we frequently neglect—is the command to rejoice with those who rejoice. Now, some of you women have real tender hearts, and it doesn’t take much to make you weep. 

When a person has a burden or a need, you’re right there with mercy and kindness and weeping with those who weep, but do we rejoice with those who rejoice? Your neighbor gets a nice new car, and you’re still driving a clunker that barely runs.

Do you get excited about the fact that that neighbor got a nice new car, or is it a more natural tendency to want to criticize and put others down because we’re jealous . . . we’re comparing? Love and jealousy are mutually exclusive. If we have love, we will not be jealous. We will not be jealous for what others have.

Now, jealousy comes in a couple different forms. Sometimes it’s the attitude that, “I want what someone else has. They have something I don’t have; I wish I could have it,” and so I’m jealous for it. And then, sometimes, it’s not that we want what they have, it’s just that we wish they didn’t have it. So, “I want what you have,” or “I wish that you didn’t have what you have.”

Love is not possessive. God has given all of us material blessings, other kinds of blessings: time, resources of different types. True love doesn’t hold on to and jealously cling to my possessions. It is willing to share, to give, to share with others.

True love, rather than being jealous, is content with having my basic needs met, having basic necessities in life, and having—of course—the most important thing that we can have, and that is a right relationship with God.

You know, if I have a right relationship with God—if Jesus Christ is my Savior and lives in my life and I have eternal life and I have a clear conscience toward God—what else do I need? We’re so short-sighted! We crave and covet and long for the things that others have, that are temporal. But true love is delighted for others to be blessed with things that, perhaps, we don’t have.

We’ve been talking about the church at Corinth and how Paul wrote this love chapter to address many of the problems and needs and issues in that church. The Corinthians had a lot of different spiritual gifts; God had given them those spiritual gifts.

In fact, the Scripture says that God gives a spiritual gift to every believer in Christ—if you’re in Christ, you have a spiritual gift. The problem was the Corinthians were taking their spiritual gifts and they were holding them up to impress each other.

And then they were saying, “Certain gifts are more important than others.” Now the ones they chose to be more important were the more flashy, the more spectacular gifts—the ones that drew more attention to themselves.

And some would say, “I have this gift. Don’t you?” And then others were jealous, because someone else had a gift that they didn’t have, that they thought they wanted. And Paul said, “What’s the key to dealing with this issue of jealousy, comparison, contention that flows out of this jealousy?"

The key is to live a life of love, to put on love, to pursue love, to learn to love in God’s way. Love is not envious; it is not jealous. You see, when love sees another person who is more popular, more successful, more beautiful, more talented than I am, if I have a heart of love, I will be glad for that person—never jealous or envious.

James chapter 3 talks about the deadliness of the sin of envy or jealousy, and Paul said, “If any person is wise and understanding, let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom, but if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts,”—by the way, those two invariably go together: envy and selfish ambition, seeking more for myself. 

Paul says if you harbor this envy and this selfish ambition in your hearts, “do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven. This is not of God, but it is earthly, unspiritual, and of the devil” (see James 3:13–16).

One translation says it’s devilish, it’s demonic, to have this kind of selfish ambition and envy. Envy is not just a little problem. Envy is something that comes from the pit of hell. And so, James says in chapter 3, verse 16, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (NKJV).

Isn’t that a description of what was taking place in the church at Corinth? There was disorder, there was contention, there was pandemonium at their communion services. You have disorder and every evil practice. In that church there was a man who had an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife! Talk about evil practices—and the church was condoning it!

Where did this come from? Paul said it all goes back to a lack of love: “You envy, you’re jealous of one another.”

In her book The Music of His Promises, Elisabeth Elliott has a wonderful passage about this part of the love test. Here’s what she has to say:

If I imagine that I love my neighbor, let me test my love by asking how glad I am that he has achieved what I have failed to achieve . . . that he has managed to acquire what I have long wished to acquire . . . that he is loved by someone or many, or in some way that has never been granted to me. If I love neighbor as myself, there will be no reason at all for the least twinge of jealousy, because I will be just as happy that he has what I wanted as I would be if I had it.

Leslie: Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help breed contentment in your heart. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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