Ps 73 Desire: Envy & Jealousy
What does it take to survive? What does a human need?
*Food, Water, sleep, air
*How long can we survive without the basics?
Air: 3 minutes is about the max, longer and you are pushing your luck.
-The record for holding your breath under water is 11 minutes 35 seconds.
-After a gulp of pure oxygen Tom Sietas went 22 minutes 22 seconds in 2012.
Water: 3 days is about the max without running into problems but a man was left in a cell in Australia in 1979 by accident for 18 days.
Food: The longest is a recorded hunger strike in 1920 by an Irish political prisoner, 74 days but ended in his death.
Sleep: Randy Gardner is supposed to have the record, 11 days. Others have gone longer but may have fallen into a zombie like eye-open sleep state.
*We need these basics in order to survive.
*But few want to merely survive we desire much more than that.
*Desire extends far, far beyond survival.
*Desire in itself is neutral, like fire.
*Fire is not “good” or “evil”
*Fire can warm us, cook our food, provide light.
*Fire can kill us, burn down our homes.
*In the same way desire drives all kinds of good actions.
*Desire drives all kinds of terrible actions.
*Envy is one way that desire can go wrong.
*Envy is a desire for what another has that we don’t have.
-It is a resentful desire.
-We often use the word “Jealous” interchangeably with envy…we are jealous of what they have…we envy them.
*Listen to the testimony of a man whose desire almost went dark, then by God’s grace was reoriented back to reality.
Psa. 73:1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” 12 This is what the wicked are like — always carefree, they increase in wealth. 13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20 As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. 21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
- He begins with a confession of faith.
“God is good to his people, to those who are pure in heart.”
*I hope you see a pattern emerging, over and over in the Psalms there is a confession of faith setting the direction in the face of disorienting emotions.
*Important: We tend to make our emotions into our beliefs and these beliefs become absolute truth.
*So people often believe there are no absolutes in terms of what is right and wrong…so their feelings become their one absolute…what they feel is always right.
*Even with facts clearly placed before them…they refuse to change their minds…because what they feel is absolute, and trusted in spite of facts.
*I feel God is this kind of God or God should act this way and that becomes my point of reference…a meology vs a theology.
*I feel this is or should be true about myself, the world, and others…therefore those feelings determine how I go about shaping my life, trying to shape the world, and others…of course the result is great disappointment and worse.
*Envy “feels” like the world is out of balance, it believes “I am being ripped off otherwise I would have more or different than what I have.”
*The psalmist begins with an objective statement of faith: “Surely God is good to his people, to those who are pure in heart.”
*Pure in heart is not perfection but direction…it is a description of people who are not playing games with God and others.
*The starting point for our lives must always be an external point of reference: Who is God…not merely, what am I feeling?
*Imagine a ship’s captain who draws a picture of home on the bow of the ship and believes that as long as they are headed towards that picture they will headed in the right direction.
*Well of course you always be headed towards the picture, its on the front of the ship…and occasionally you will, if the winds blow the right way, be headed towards home as well…but more often than not you will head the wrong direction.
*Navigating by emotions is painting a picture of home on the front of your ship…navigating by the objective reality of God is navigating by a fixed and external point of reference…like the north star.
*The Navy is back to teaching celestial navigation…because GPS is vulnerable to attack and we have a generation of sailors who would not know how to sail if that happened.
*So before the Psalmist tells us how he felt…he tells us what he knows is true.
*I think this is why he “almost slipped” but didn’t…he felt something powerful, but he believed something more powerfully.
- Then he tells us what had almost happened to him and why
*”It is true that God is good, but as for me, my feet had almost slipped, I had nearly lost my foothold.”
*”Foothold” is an idiom that means a secure position, especially a basis for taking a next step.
*A person hiking a mountain must gain a foothold before attempting a next step of they will slip down the mountain.
*What was the foothold he almost lost?
*Reality, he nearly slipped into the terrible world of unreality where God is not good, where there is no justice, where it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do.
*A world where loving and obeying God counts for nothing, it just doesn’t pay.
*A world where he was being ripped off by God.
*Its very easy to see how this can happen to a person…because this is often how the world appears to us.
*What caused him to nearly slip into this world of unreality?
*Dark Desire: “I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
*Now he goes on a run of the kinds of unreality thinking that threatened to take him down.
-They have no struggles
-Their bodies are healthy and strong
-They are free from the burdens common to man
-They are not plagued by human ills
*Envy had distorted reality for him.
*Envy makes others appear richer, happier, healthier than they are and us much worse off.
*But it’s not a complete distortion of reality.
*There are people with the resources and the lifestyle that make them free from many of the burdens common to man.
*Some, maybe many…are much better off in many ways than we are…more money, health, opportunity. Fewer problems.
*You are trying to find time to take care of the basic neccesities while they have people watching their kids, washing their cars, driving their cars, scheduling their lives…they play for a living, you work for a living.
*They are free from some burdens common to man, they do for a time, escape some of the things that plague people.
*Pride is their necklace, they wear it out in the open, for all to see.
*They move through life taking what they want and dealing harshly with anyone who gets in their way…they wear violence like garments.
*This doesn’t mean they are all mob bosses…but it means “Watch out if you try to cross them or get in the way of their desires…they are used to getting what they want.”
*Some of his perspective on how others live is valid…some is clearly a distortion…the prosperity of the wicked is only skin deep and short lived.
*Skin deep because underneath it all, the are still people and they struggle with the same kinds of things everyone else does…relationships, meaning, fears, they still get the flu, their kids cry.
*Short-lived because death is the equalizer.
*But some of it is not a distortion…and this is what makes it confusing.
*The blatant success of the prosperous and ungodly creates a distortion of reality.
- Reality Distortion Field
*Reality distortion field (RDF) is a term coined by Bud Tribble at Apple computer in 1981 to describe co-founder Steve Jobs’ charisma and its effects on others.
*He said the term came from a Star Trek episode, where some aliens created perceptions of alternative reality by using their minds…if you a fan…the episode was entitled “The Menagerie.”
*RDF was used to describe Steve Job’s ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing and persistence.
*This distorted an audience’s sense of proportion and made them believe what he wanted them to believe.
*The Psalmist was suffering RDF…an effect caused by the lifestyles of the rich and famous who cared nothing about God.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” 12 This is what the wicked are like — always carefree, they increase in wealth.
*The RDF of the rich, famous and wicked make it look like this is not a world of cause and effect…or maybe it is…but not like you expected.
*You expected that righteousness is rewarded and wickedness is punished…but that’s not really how it is.
*The brutal, the selfish, the greedy are inheriting the earth, not the meek.
*The meek, the self-sacrificing, the obedient, the God-lover…they are the suckers, the fools.
*You really do get ahead by stepping on others, by being mean and selfish.
*What contributes to this distortion is to misunderstand God’s Common Grace.
*Common grace is the goodness of God extended to all people.
Matt. 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
*There is no real evidence of God’s love when we love those who love us…the evidence of God’s kind of love is in loving those who do not love or even like us.
*V. 45 we are to bear the family resemblence of our father who “Causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
*Sun and rain are what we need for life, for food to grow…God sends rain and causes “his” sun to rise on good and evil alike.
*Even those who reject him, deny him…are experiencing his grace as they enjoy health, bear children, drink and eat, enjoy life-giving sunshine and rain.
*This is God’s common grace.
*Common Grace is not saving grace, in fact, unbelievers will use God’s patient restraint of his wrath not as an opportunity to embrace Christ but as evidence that there is no judgment and they can happily continue in their sins.
*”See, look at my life…no lightening bolts, the earth hasn’t swallowed me…In fact, I’m doing quite well…I can do what I want.”
*Our Psalmist was confusing God’s Common Grace and his patience…with some kind of upside down world where God is mocked and people never experience justice or judgment.
2Pet. 3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
*Peter is saying the same thing as Jesus did…”Do not confuse God’s common grace with his weakness, or absence…he is patient.”
*The Psalmist was confused by the patience of the Lord, he listened to those who said “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?”
*The RDF distorted his desires (reality distortion field)
- Envy…the distortion of desire.
13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
*They have, I have, they have, I have.
*He had a desire (a good one)…holiness, for God.
*Envy distorted that desire…”What a waste of time” “Its not paying off…I’m getting ripped off.”
*His conclusion is self-pity, feeling sorry for himself.
*He tried to reason it all out on his own…unsuccessfully.
16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me.”
*When he painted a picture of home on the front of his ship…it didn’t help.
“I tried to understand all this.”
*What is the problem with trying to understand all this?
*Shouldn’t we try to understand things?
*Yes, but what are your potential points of navigation, a reference for understanding?
- Your own thoughts and emotions (bad idea when you are disoriented, because it is moving point of reference)
- The thoughts and emotions of others (also known as culture…also a moving point of reference, and moving faster all the time)
*Culture is just a larger group of ships, with a picture of home painted on the bows.
- The revelation of God to us in his word. (A fixed point of reference)
*His attempts to work it all out himself proved to be “oppressive”
*Envy is a magician, it makes things appear to be real that are not.
*Envy is a liar, it tells you that you need what you do not have and if you had what someone else has you would be happy.
*But how much is ever enough, for desire gone dark?…More, always a bit more.
Prov. 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
*Envy disorients us…it is desire gone to the dark side.
*It drives us away from what God has given us, what God is doing now, even what God wants to do next.
*Envy is unsatiable, how much is enough for a fire?
*When it is it satisfied?
*Does a fire ever say, “I’m content, no more fuel for me thank you?”
*Human envy is a fire, it is unable to be satisfied by feeding it.
*It is a distortion of the desire that God has built into our hearts.
*Envy is a reality distortion field that requires more than just trying to work it all out ourselves.
*Envy is countered by reorientation to the reality of who God and what he wants for us.
- Reorientation to Reality
17 Till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
*Finally he stopped trying to make sense out of life unaided by God’s revelation.
*As he turned his face from himself and others back to God (reorientation)…he went from seeing those who are far from God as objects of envy to objects worthy of pity.
*Suddenly as if waking from a dream they turned from creatures of splendor, god-like humans…to living fantasies, their lives are unreal, unsubstantial.
*He now sees that they are on slippery ground…they have no firm footing for their lives.
*And he saw his own life differently.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever
*Is this a declaration of faith, or a statement of what he feels?
*Probably, “Yes”…its one of those beautiful moments that follow reorientation where inner subjective reality (what I feel) aligns with external objective reality (what is true).
*Eternity and Earth have nothing I desire besides you.
*Does this mean suddenly he has no other desires than for God?
*I think it means that he saw in that moment what is always true…all desire points ultimately to God.
*My feelings and physical body may fail me…but the fact remains, God is my portion forever.
*Envy says “I am getting ripped off, I’m not getting my fair share, my portion is smaller, worse than yours.”
*The reoriented Psalmist ended with this… “God is my fair share, my portion cannot be smaller…I cannot get ripped off…because my portion is God.”
*What tempts you or draws you into envy.
*Maybe you envy the friendships, relationships of others.
*”Odd person out” is a term for friendships that include 3 people or more…when inevitable one person will feel like the other two have something they do not have.
*Maybe you envy, or are tempted to envy another’s health, gifts, opportunities, happiness, maturity…the list is endless because our capacity for discontent tends to know no bounds.
*The antidote for desire is desire.
*We must not believe eliminating desire is a solution for dark desire…that is apathy or worse.
*Envy is desire gone dark…what is desire in the light?
I entered your sanctuary, understood, realized
Three Things: Entered, Understood, Realized
“When I tried to understand all this it was oppressive to me”
*This is what happened during his time alone…maybe even time alone in prayer…he could not work it out in his head.
*It is not uncommon to spend time reading the Bible and in prayer and come away with terrible conclusions.
*God speaks clearly, we do not always hear clearly…especially when we are disorientated…our emotions can become the filter through which God’s word is distorted.
*We are easily self-deceived.
*I used to equate “entering the sanctuary” here as going before God on my own to be reoriented…as if the Psalmist snuck into a quiet, dark church late at night all by himself.
*So is it a private QT that got him back on track?…No, that’s not what happened…he went to “church.”
*He entered the sanctuary, there were others there…the Psalms are for public worship first (private worship is a secondary application).
*I recently heard for the hundredth time…”I can worship God just as well by on the lake by myself as at church.”
*Try it and you will stay just as disoriented as you currently are.
*I am not saying by yourself by the lake is bad…its great…in combination with community.
*Its bad when “worship by the lake” is thought to be equal or better than “with others, with God.”
*The focus on scripture is more on what we do together than on what we do alone with God.
*The imbalance historically swings between a personal and a public life with God.
*One imbalance is that membership in a church body is all that is needed to have relationship with God…personal choice and responsibility is out of balance.
*The other is that membership in a church body is not needed for relationship with God…its all individual not community.
*The truth is…we must have individual, personal relationships with God…and these relationships thrive in the context of being part of church families.
*Point one: Reorientation most often happens when we are together before God.
*He showed up, he entered the sanctuary…in our terminology…he went to church, he worshipped.
*What did he understand?
*”The final destiny of those he was envious of.”
*We are not promised equity in this life.
*We are not promised that God will grant all our wishes…he has not promised to be “fair”.
*But in the end…the Psalmist understood, those who die without God, gained nothing in their lives that mattered.
*He also understood his own final destiny.
*V. 23, 34: Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
*His future outlook was bright.
*It doesn’t mean we should attempt to get rid of desire now, or that wanting more is wrong.
*Its okay to desire success, family, friends, health, impact…all kinds of good actions are driven by desire.
*But perspective on our desire must flow from “understanding”
*Understanding that this is not all, or even most there is.
*We return once again to Ps 90:12…how does the fact they I will die, you will die, that person I envy will die…inform and shape my desires and where I allow them to take me?
*It should completely inform and shape our desires.
“You are my portion, forever.”
*If God is my portion and envy believes things are disproportionate…can you see how this realization is vital to ongoing orientation?
*If God; eternal, powerful, living-giving is my portion…how can I possible be getting ripped off?
*How could others have a larger portion than I do?
*I am not suggesting this realization is easy to come to or easy to hold on to…I am suggesting it is true and real.
*Instead of giving in to envy…”I am being ripped off.”
*Or merely trying not to feel envy…”Don’t envy them, don’t envy them.”
*Perhaps we should give our energy to pursuing a greater desire than envy…by nurturing our built in hunger for God.
*The one stop shop for all kinds of solutions in the Scripture is love.
*Love God, love others.
*1 cor. 13 “Love does not envy, it is not self-seeking”
*One our core values as a church family is “Put the success of others ahead of our own.”
*Comes from here…
Phil 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
*We don’t have to live this way, we get to.
*Its doesn’t imply we are not to care for our own interests…we are just not to care exclusively for ours…we are not to make ours needs our priority.
*We can try to not envy…but playing defense is exhausting and is a negative focus that eventually will not succeed.
*What does it look like to play offense, what is a positive focus in regards to envy?
- We can offer gratittude to God…continually, “He is my portion, I am not ripped off.”
- We can choose to show love to others
*Grattitude to God put to action is when we seek to put the interests of others first.
*Actions to move towards the success of others is the Gospel antidote for desire gone dark in envy.
*Envy will make you sick…spiritually, physically, relationally…and it will bring zero benefit to your life or the lives of others.
*So why do we do it? Because are foolish. But we don’t have to live in that folly.
*The good news of the gospel is that we do not have to live sick with envy…and we do not have to merely live trying not to be sick…we can move towards health…
*Grattitude to God…he is my portion.
*Love for others…Making the success of others a priority for me.