It can happen almost anywhere.
In poorly ventilated houses. In improperly insulated buildings. On inadequately tarred ships.
Concealed places, disregarded places.
Places hidden from view.
Here, deep within the oak, walnut, maple, mahogany, fungal spores take hold. They settle unnoticed into the skeletal wood grains where stagnant water has been allowed to endure. Over time, the spores multiply. They feed on the wet spines of timber, the parts that give it stiffness and strength. They eat away at the structural integrity of the material until it becomes brittle, unreliable.
Until it breaks.
Much like our souls do when envy is allowed to rot within us.
When green-eyed glances turn to gazes. When feelings of dissatisfaction, deprivation, deficiency are permitted to propagate in the stagnant, seldom ventilated corners of our hearts.
Solomon had much to tell us about envy in his wisdom writings.
In Proverbs 14:30 he declares,
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (NIV)
Rotting, corroding, decaying.
Solomon understood the condition of our spiritual (and at times physical) “bones” when envy is left untended. Much like wood rot, envy eats away at our spiritual backbone. It weakens the spiritual vertebrae through which our strength, confidence, assurance flow. It deteriorates our hope, derails our joy.
Because at its core, envy has nothing to do with our neighbor.
Rather, envy is a symptom.
A sign of deeper spiritual stagnancy. The mark of a soul swamped with self-deprecating, condemnatory lies. A heart awash in destructive, rejection-based deceptions of inadequacy and lack that fundamentally contradict our intrinsic worth in Christ.
Whether we realize it or not, this pool of fabrication is where envy flourishes until we identify the underlying root. We must acknowledge our skewed sense of identity and spend time with our loving Father who longs to dam up false beliefs, repair structural heart damage and restore in us our right standing.
After all, we are “children of God,” “complete in Him,” “free from the law of sin and death,” “alive with Christ,” “God’s workmanship,” “a joint-heir with Christ, “an overcomer,” “more than a conqueror,” an on and on (1 John 5:18; Colossians 2:10; Romans 8:1-2, 17, 37; Ephesians 2:5, 10; Revelation 12:11).
You see, in every fiber of your being God wants you to know who you are in Him.
Who He is in you.
He wants you to know Him so deeply your eyes refuse to wander, your heart declines to judge no matter how you measure up to the people around you.
So today let the great Architect begin building (or rebuilding) such a Christ-centered identity in your spiritual marrow that peace fills your body, peace produces life, peace “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
But to build that “heart of peace,” you must come.
And come often.
If you do, “He who began a work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
In what area do you struggle most with envy? What truth(s) regarding your identity in Christ could bring peace and restore life to your soul today?