Read Psalm 73.
Not too long ago, I was listening to a podcast that featured a guest I know personally. He’s not someone I’d call a close friend, because we don’t know each other that well. He’s more of an acquaintance, a writer I respect and admire. He’s someone I’d walk over and say hello to if I saw him at a restaurant. But I know enough about this person to know that he wasn’t quite telling the truth during this podcast appearance.
It wasn’t an outright lie; he just left out a few important details that, to my listening ear, erased much of the help he’d received from others when his career was just starting out. The result was to make it seem that his current publisher had simply been bowled over by his work and signed him to a contract based on his writing alone. The truth was he’d gotten a pretty big hand up by a few famous friends with connections and platforms.
There’s nothing wrong with receiving help, of course. You might even say the boost he received ultimately came from God’s hand. But as I listened to him tell his story, omitting these important details, my stomach churned with envy and self-righteous outrage. This morning, as I read Psalm 73, these feelings came welling up once again. “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (vv. 2–3).
Now, I’m not saying this acquaintance is full-on wicked. He loves the Lord, and like the rest of us, he has his blind spots. But I understand the envy of Asaph in this psalm, and I love that he reckons it as his problem. He is the one in danger of slipping and falling, not the evil people he observes. That’s how jealousy works. It’s a green-eyed monster you unleash who turns around and bites your face off. “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you” (vv. 21–22).
Trust in Yahweh frees us from jealousy, not because the feelings never rise up, but because when they do, we can turn to the one who will set all things right one day. It may seem like some people prosper unfairly and that the system is rigged to benefit those who are already blessed, but it will not always be this way. God sees all, and he will reward everyone for what they have done, whether good or evil. Simply put, no one is going to get away with anything.
At the same time, if we have Jesus, we have everything. There’s nothing else we need, nothing that will bring us any greater joy or fulfillment. Not ultimately anyway.
Envy is a lie from the pit of hell that says God’s holding out on us, that we’d be truly happy if only we had what someone else has. But what Asaph says to the Lord is true for all of us: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (vv. 25–26).
Jesus is enough. Always.