A college student I know likes her life just fine - until a more talented and/or better-looking girl appears on the scene. Then feelings of comparison, envy, and depression roll in, eroding her self-confidence.
My friend is not alone. Many people have a struggle not to feel envious of the success and accomplishments of others.
Christ Jesus addressed this problem in his parable of the prodigal son, in which the older son begrudges the good things that the father bestows on the repentant younger brother. The father's words of assurance to his jealous son point to a vital spiritual truth of God and man that can be helpful to the person dealing with envy. He says, ''Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.'' n1
n1 Luke 15:31.
Christian Science, which follows the teachings of the Way-shower, helps us see that man's actual being is made in God's likeness, is the spiritual, eternal offspring of God. Therefore man is in full possession of every Godlike quality essential to joy, dominion, purpose, and fulfillment. These are not gifts occasionally bestowed on certain individuals by a heavenly Father who loves some more than others. They are bestowed on all God's creation impartially. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes, referring to God, ''Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 13.
For the person beset by feelings of inadequacy and envy, the knowledge of his completeness as the child of God - endowed with just as much ability to reflect God's all-encompassing nature as any of His children - brings freedom from the misery of unfulfilled hopes and unnecessary comparisons. It awakens one to realize that all the good one can possibly need for happiness and well-being is already his; that God, divine Mind, is forever expressing Himself in man. The prophet says of God's purpose for each one of us, ''This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.'' n3
n3 Isaiah 43:21.
Instead of wasting precious time envying the good other people do, how much more rewarding it is - for ourselves and for mankind - to get busy expressing our own unique spiritual purpose. Accepting the fact that God created us to show forth His nature, and recognizing that as His image we reflect unlimited ability , inspire us to develop to the full our God-given potential. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, ''The talents He gives we must improve.'' n4
n4 Science and Health, p. 6.
An experience I had several years ago illustrates what help this can be in putting off envy. In addition to my regular office duties I was appointed to a special committee whose other members all appeared to me to have superior intellects. In fact, these people seemed so far above me in intelligence and expertise that I would often leave a meeting where I had contributed little or nothing, feeling quite frustrated and depressed. Finally I asked a Christian Science practitioner to help me through prayer. I had relied on God for answers to other problems and was assured this one could be solved as well.
One day it dawned on me that I was so impressed with how well the others were doing I wasn't using the talents God had given me! For the first time I saw that I had all the God-given ability required to do this job - indeed that God actually needed my unique expression of His nature in order that He be fully reflected. As I began striving to better express His pure, loving, intelligent nature, feelings of inadequacy gave way to confidence and satisfying self-expression. New talents even surfaced, with the end result that I did make a worthwhile contribution.
If, then, we're struggling with feelings of envy, we might consider these two Bible-based spiritual truths: (1) Our true selfhood is God's perfect expression, inseparable from His eternal, all-encompassing care and therefore already in possession of all good. (2) Our purpose is to manifest God's attributes in continuous, satisfying activity.
Understanding these potent truths, striving to develop our own God-bestowed abilities and individuality, we'll find ourselves no longer cast down by the thought of another's talents and accomplishments but rather feeling satisfied and complete. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he wil flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he wil draw nigh to you. . . . Humble uourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:7, 8, 10