Three steps to defeating greed and envy

Trish Crossley

Hearing a few notes of “The Music Box Dancer” sends my mind racing back. The image of a bustling gym frames the memory of my sister in a gymnastics competition. A small-framed girl shimmers in a red and white sequin leotard as her blonde pigtails dance in unison with her floor routine. She was captivating.

I was envious of how she made it look so easy — as if flipping across the mat end to end took no more effort than crossing the street.

Envy creeps in without warning, grumbling about how life is not fair.

The green-eyed monster called envy creeps in without warning, grumbling about how life is not fair. Envy whispers, “Other people have an advantage and their lives are easier. What they have or do is better than you.”

Envy’s only half of the battle. Its partner, greed, usually accompanies it. Like rain falling from clouds, you rarely see one without the other.

Greed builds an airtight case using practical reasoning and excuses. This logical argument, based solely on personal desire, coerces us to believe we need more.

Envy and greed come from the same place but are not the same. Greed demands satisfaction by driving us to continually gain more; envy will always leave us feeling satisfactionless.

3 Steps to Beat Greed and Envy

1. Take opportunities to be generous and practice contentment.   

1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” This is why generosity is so important. Practicing generosity creates space between us and greed. Every time we chose to be generous — with our time, our money or our talent — we are choosing to not let money be our master. It’s like putting greed protection on our hearts.

Similarly, finding contentment in every situation and celebrating others is the way we fight envy. Proverbs 14:30 warns, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”  Each time we choose to thank God for what we have and to celebrate others’ successes, we’re filling our hearts with peace and contentment instead of envy.

2. Be the individual God has called you to be.

Everyone is trying to sell us something. Reality is, we are not in a constant state of need. Most of us already have more than we need. In Luke 12:15, Jesus reminds us that life is not about what we have, saying, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

Pre-determine your lifestyle, and don’t let anyone put you down for being different or going against the status quo (Galatians 5:26).

3. Kick comparison to the curb.  

Quit keeping score with others! Comparison is envy’s love language and will never bring us satisfaction. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus says that if we’ll seek God first, we’ll find everything we want and need.  

Personal satisfaction comes from Christ alone. Nothing else will satisfy. Temporary pleasures can’t fix an eternal problem. There is not enough money or stuff in the world to gratify a soul separated from Jesus (Mark 8:36).

I watched my sister practice a 90-second floor routine for gymnastics for hours. She endured physical discomfort by training daily. Sometimes she would fall, then she’d get right back up and try it, again. Other times, she did it perfectly. But, whether she was tumbling across the mat at the gym or turning cartwheels down the aisle of the grocery store.  She was happy and content to be doing something she loved no matter what anyone else did.

Don’t let greed and envy run your life. Beat them daily.

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