I want what other dudes have. Plain and simple. If you have a nice car, that’s the car I want and think I deserve more than you. If you have a nice house, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why you live there and I don’t. Do you have a beautiful wife and good looking kids? Why not me? What makes you so special that you deserve it and I don’t?
Envy is a tricky thing. I am a naturally envious person. Most of the time I pretend that I’m not, but really I am. It makes it hard to maintain friendships, too. I can’t be invited to someone’s house for dinner and not think, “Man, I wish I could have dinner parties.” God forbid the stuff in their house be nicer than mine. Often, I find myself mentioning what I do have in order to make up for some feeling of inadequacy their “success” breeds in me. Rather than inviting my friends to come watch a movie, I invite them to come watch a movie on my “51 inch plasma screen TV.” Conversely, if I see that someone has something less than what I have, I’m quick to remind them of such. “Oh, you’ve got an HP laptop? I hardly use my Macbook Pro since purchasing my iMac desktop. I hardly use my iPhone either since I got the iPad. Not unless I need to make a phone call…” I could be so “hood rich,” but I don’t like feeling inadequate and I want others to feel my pain when I do.
Trip Lee & KB talk with TCM Founder C. E’Jon Moore to provide commentary and feedback on their breakout sessions presented during the Man Up 2012 Conference in Atlanta, GA.
The problem with envy is that nothing is ever enough. John D. Rockefeller, at one point the richest man in the world, was once asked, “How much money is enough?” His answer? “Just a little bit more.” The problem with envy is that you want what others have and you’re not satisfied in what God has given you already. And American Christianity doesn’t seem unaffected by the sting of envious tendencies. So many people are trying to have “Your Best Life Now” and the American dream is all about that very thing, that we believe and act as if God has somehow co-signed our envy. I truly wonder if many things we consider to be “God’s blessings” are nothing more than the fruit of the envious pursuit of “bigger barns.” I’m not suggesting that God doesn’t bless people despite their total unworthiness. But, sometimes I feel like slapping God’s name on something we’ve attained is a means of assuaging any feelings of guilt we might be feeling about why we went after that thing in the first place.
Maybe true faith and courage are what are needed in order to overcome our envious tendencies. I once watched a film called The Joneses that stars David Duchovny and Demi Moore. The premise was that they would move into a neighborhood posing as a married couple with children in order to get people to buy their things. Their house would be full of the coolest stuff, their “children” would be impossibly beautiful, they would drive the nicest cars, and wear the newest fashions. Cue salivating. The neighbors come around and it isn’t long before the moral bankruptcy of envy becomes apparent—to the neighbors and the “family.” I won’t ruin the ending for anyone who wants to take in the film, but I will comment that it takes a lot of courage to “man up” and realize that chasing a pipedream and looking cool and making everyone envious of you isn’t worth the trouble.
After all, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his own soul? Jesus said that. When we go into the mall to buy the newest kicks or that new outfit or that new computer, we tend to think of ourselves as exchanging cash or swiping our credit card. But, Jesus the Messiah suggests that when we do so with envious intent, we might just be walking into the mall and exchanging our very soul.
 Fair warning. The Joneses, while boasting a fantastic message overall, contains adult language, situations, and a little bit of nudity. Tread carefully.