Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"I'll have what she's having" (The much anticipated final 'The Envy of Eve' post)

The more I read The Envy of Eve, the clearer it becomes that any search for satisfaction in worldly things will find no end, when the true and only source of satisfaction is God. This is epitomised in the last two chapters as we consider how readily we covet what we once had (forgetting the agonies that season also brought), what we long to one day have, and that which we should rejoice in God having given to others.

Chapter Eight, “Coveting Seasons and Circumstances, takes us to Exodus. The Israelites looked back and coveted circumstances in their past, only having forgotten just how bad their enslavement in Egypt really was. They forgot how good God was in redeeming them from slavery. Looking forward they were fearful, though they had God and His good, sovereign plan to trust.

Kruger makes a point of saying, “Whenever we are in a particular season, it is always easy to see the benefits of another woman’s season of life, while failing to consider or remember the struggles.” We see the seasons of life that others are in and compare it to our own, then allowing our longings for good things in the future or that we had in the past to become covetous. We can begin to believe God is withholding from us by not giving us the things we desire from other seasons of life.

What does this look like in our lives, in our hearts? It’s the single woman looking longingly at the life of a mother. It’s the mother who covets what young single women have, without the pressure of marriage and motherhood. It’s the student who craves the financial freedom of working life, and it’s the working woman who yearns for the relaxed lifestyle of her youth. In considering how we see different seasons and desire their attributes, it is helpfully pointed out, “It is not coveting to be aware of the difficulties or struggles of our particular season; it is coveting to be full of bitterness and discontentment because of the difficulties.” In reading this chapter I was challenged to remember that every season has its struggles in amongst its blessings, and to look to God for satisfaction, not my external circumstances.

So what are the struggles in your season of life? What blessings have you overlooked?

Upon reaching the final chapter of The Envy of Eve, we see that God gives His people certain gifts and abilities for serving Him. But when we should rejoice and be thankful for His work through other people, we just covet their gifts. 

The example of this type of coveting is that of Korah and his envy of Aaron’s priesthood and the significant role he and his sons were given ahead of all other priesthoods. Though Korah was part of a significant priesthood with a particular and necessary role, he envied the special role of Aaron’s priesthood. He saw Aaron and his sons being gifted with a certain role that Korah thought brought them glory, and he wanted in. Korah was concerned with his own glory, not God’s.

When we covet the spiritual gifts that others have been given, it stems from a wrong understanding of the purpose of spiritual gifts. Similar to Chapter Five’s reminder to think of ourselves as stewards of our possessions, entrusted with them by God for His purposes, we are also just stewards of our spiritual gifts. God hasn’t given them to us so that we can have glory, recognition and reward, but for the good and growth of His kingdom.

Thankfully we’re not left without an example of humble service. The reference made to Philippians 2:5-8 came as a welcome reminder of Jesus’ attitude, who shows the ultimate example of fighting ambition and pride. I wonder if you have ever found yourself coveting the gifts of another because of the glory you see it bringing you? Or if you neglect opportunities to use your gifts because it isn’t convenient, or it isn’t going to glorify you?

Reaching the end of The Envy of Eve, I was reminded of what lies at the essence of overcoming coveting in our lives. I’ll leave you with this final excerpt:

“In order to have present contentment, we must keep looking back to the cross and forward to heaven. The cross reminds us that Jesus loves us enough to shed His own blood... Heaven reminds us that one day all our current longings and struggles will be satisfied.”

Praise be to the One who gives us such a rich source of contentment and satisfaction, and may we always remember these eternal truths in the midst of our temporary longings.

                                                                                             - Lauren Mahaffey

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