I was watching a stage comedy in which one character was intensely jealous of someone else's good fortune. I found his antics hysterically funny. The actor expressed the character's frustration and envy with such postures!
But later I thought how unamused and unhappy I have felt when I've been tempted to be jealous of other people's good. Just trying to laugh it off certainly hasn't helped me. But Christian Science has shown me the path of freedom from the hell of envy. It has brought to view many previously unseen blessings.
The Biblical command ''Thou shalt not covet . . .'' n1 is followed by a list of commonly coveted things, including ''thy neighbour's house'' and ''thy neighbour's wife.'' The commandment concludes by telling us not to covet anything that is our neighbor's.
n1 Exodus 20:17.
Perhaps we've coveted someone else's job, talent, resources, or even good looks. Some ''lucky'' person has what we don't - or so we think.
But the ''thou shalt not'' isn't a threat. It's a promise. It might read, ''You need not covet'' - because the one God, the source of all good, generously gives us all we need. In fact, the Bible says that God ''daily loadeth us with benefits.'' n2
n2 Psalms 68:19.
Some days you don't feel convinced of that? The need, then, is to get to know God better - and to know man better, not as a deprived mortal but as God's spiritual, cared-for creation.
A limited concept of Deity results in a limited sense of good. On the other hand, the Bible shows that, as individuals grasped large views of God's goodness , omnipotence, and love, this changed their lives, even enabled them to lift up families and a nation to a more secure and productive level. Moses, Nehemiah, and Daniel are examples. Christ Jesus, of course, is the clearest - the unmatched - example. Through the Bible weave the golden threads of revelation and triumph.
There is plenty of good to go around. We don't have to covet it or feel that it is beyond our grasp. Indeed, we can do much more than simply grasp for it. We can understand that God, good, is ever present and omnipotent, and that we, His children, are the constant recipients of His love. ''Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals,'' n3 writes Mary Baker Eddy n4 in reference to God.
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 13.
n4 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
If that is so, why don't we always see all this good? Well, perhaps something is blinding us. And this something may be a consciousness filled with envy, resentment, or self-pity. We can't be filled with appreciation for God and be filled with resentment and covetousness at the same time - it just doesn't work!
We might also be viewing God's blessings as essentially material in origin and nature, and thus they may appear to be very limited and inaccessible to us. But again, as our concept of God's, divine Love's, goodness and infinitude opens up in our thought, His goodness opens up in our lives.
Abundance, beauty, love, aren't chance commodities, because they have their source in God and are impartially bestowed by Him. Our motive in seeking these blessings can't, however, be selfishness or egotism. If we are truly seeking good for its own sake and for our spiritual growth, we'll increasingly experience God's blessings. And we'll see more clearly that good isn't the personal property of certain individuals.
In the Christian Science textbook, Mrs. Eddy inspires deep thought on these issues. She says: ''God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already comprehend? Do we expect to change perfection? Shall we plead for more at the open fount, which is pouring forth more than we accept?'' n5
n5 Science and Health, p.2.
Interesting questions to ask ourselves! If we pursue this kind of soul-searching, we'll get some healing and progressive insights into divine Love's present blessings, and we'll be able to see the fading of deprivation and jealousy. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32