I imagine you reading this. You probably don’t know the half of how great you are. You probably doubt yourself most days and worry about what people think about you sometimes. I’m so in awe at the fact that you are made in the image of God. There’s something you have that carries something unique from God’s nature, and we get to encounter that part of Him through hanging out with you. He’s crafted gifts into your life for you to bring to this world. He’s called you by name. You know how you feel about the things you create or work on? Well you are His artistry. God created you.
It Is Finished
Dear Church. Let’s start this article with a party. Jesus wins against sin. And we are righteous before we do anything for God because our identity is in Jesus. We are wild and holy. Free and blameless. Excused and justified. Forgiven and loved. Not because of our behaviour or good works, but because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This freedom is a gift of mercy and grace. From a Heavenly Father who scoops up His kids. This article is about freedom and growth. Before we get started if you haven’t read the ‘why‘ behind this new series go and read it before you delve in! We’r so glad you are here. Enjoying your cuppa tea? Lets jump into our second adventure in the bible and explore the topic of Envy vs Kindness. Open your heart. Jot some notes. Feel free to pause. And enjoy!
‘Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one
another, as God in Christ forgave you.’
‘So clean the house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk.
You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness.
Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.’
1 Peter 2:1
Beauty Standards & Words You Remember
When I was 11 years old I started secondary school.
I have some very fond memories of school; I loved my friends and we were always laughing together. However it was also school where I became self conscious and full of insecurity. My ears stuck out, I had a spotty face and I wore glasses that made my eyes huge and on top of that, the boys at school felt it was their obligation to remind me of my flaws on a daily basis – cheers lads! And let’s not forget hormones and periods to put the icing on the cake. This wasn’t just my own reality at school, but even today over half of our teens in the UK alone are being bullied about their appearance.
One time I had a boy say to a pretty girl I was friends with – “I’m not coming out with you if Rachel’s with you, she’s so ugly!”, .. he said it right in front of me. I could feel the ripple of humiliation crawling over me – as if someone had just chucked a bucket of gunge over me. I had never even been aware of my appearance before, and coming from a loving family environment this was completely new for me.
The first compliment I had from a boy at school was when I was 13 years old on a non-school uniform day. I decided to straighten my hair, ask my sister to do my make-up and take my glasses off. I walked in and a guy looked at me and said “you look pretty without your glasses“. “Well that’s that then” I must have thought, see ya later glasses! If that’s what will make me feel like a pretty girl then I better keep this up.
A few years later at 15 years old, I would do my make-up in the mirror and get ready for school feeling so frustrated because I knew I would never look like the pretty girls at school. Sometimes the frustration would lead me to wiping all of my make-up off, and completely starting again; even if it made me late for school! Layers of foundation, desperate to cover every blemish. Don’t get me wrong; I love make-up now! Make-up is fun and expressive. But for me as a little 15 year old, it kept me safe. You can imagine how these events planted seeds that turned into fruits of envy, comparison and insecurity.
I felt so inadequate under the pressure of these beauty standards, and despite keeping up appearances I felt ugly inside and constantly compared myself to others.
These moments were sowing seeds into my life that grew into self-hatred
and it was Kindness that showed me the way out.
‘She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.’
Today our beautiful young people have added pressures at school when it comes to beauty standards. In a world of media which is a huge part of our sense of community now in society. We are pursued all day long by carefully edited, photoshopped, perfect images to which we compare our lives in our mundane moments.
As adults we have to manage this, but for our teens it’s just another huge challenge to navigate. Envy, is knocking on the doors of our hearts, telling us who we are not; but Kindness is more powerful than Envy.
‘No lusting after your neighbour’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey.
Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbour’s.’
If your heart is heavy today because of low self esteem, jealousy, and insecurity,
I’m here to tell you some truth today, sweetheart!:
There is a true love in Jesus that can heal this ache,
And you really are beautiful.
There was a story that came to mind straight away when I was preparing for this topic. And that was the story of two sisters named Leah and Rachel. Here are some fun facts about these women:
☆ Their story is in the book of Genesis ☆
☆ Rachel is the Mother of Joseph (with the amazing technicolored dream coat) ☆
☆ Rachel and Leah were sisters and were also married to the same man (eek) ☆
☆ Rachel is one of only two women in the bible who are called out on how beautiful they were physically. The second woman is Queen Esther ☆
☆ They were both each other’s biggest competition ☆
☆ Jacob fell madly in-love with Rachel very quickly, he waited 14 years to be with her – how romantic! ☆
☆ Leah was in-love with Jacob but he didn’t love her in return, even though they were married ☆
Let’s dive into the story and look deeper
into the nature of Envy and Kindness.
Once Upon A Time, There Were Two Women Called Rachel & Leah
‘Now Laben had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah,
and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes,
but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.’
‘Jacob was inlove with Rachel, and said “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel” Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me. So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.’
Now, something bizarre happened on their wedding day.. Laban actually gave his eldest daughter Leah away instead of Rachel because it was traditional for the eldest daughter to marry first. And weirdly.. Jacob didn’t notice that he had married another woman.. My guess is that at the wedding the wine would have been flowing and it was likely that Leah had a veil over her head, maybe to ensure Laban’s plan succeeded. He went to bed with his new wife ‘Rachel’ and woke up the next morning with the shock of his life as Rachel was actually, Leah!
‘When the morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laben,
“What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I?
Why have you deceived me?’
Laben (Rachel and Leah’s Dad) agreed then if he worked for 7 more years, he could marrry Rachel as well.
Yikes. I think this shows a bit of a nasty side to Laban’s character.
Can you imagine how Leah was feeling about everything?
This is a huge situation she’s going through. She has just had her Dad give her to this guy even though he knew he didn’t love her, and clearly business was more important than his daughters welfare. Also, she had just had sex with this guy that she actually does have strong feelings for, but he completely rejected her because he fancied another girl. Not just any girl, but her sister. This is starting to feel like an episode of Love Island.
She probably felt unwanted and humiliated. And the way she was treated was not kind.
Have you ever felt like Leah?
Let’s see how these events affected Leah’s heart and how God’s kindness was present over her through the entire process.
Now Jacob was married to both Leah and Rachel and Leah entered a season of her life where she was depressed (Gen 29:31). She felt rejected and desperate for love. This guy wasn’t loving her in the way she needed him to, and it was taking all of her focus..
But God was with Leah. He could see her pain. I imagine an 80s chick flick movie scene where there’s a girl in a relationship with the ‘good-looking popular guy‘ and he just ends up cheating on her with another girl – meanwhile there is another guy.. who she never even notices. He’s usually not in the popular crowd but he would do anything to be with her. I believe this is a picture of God and the Church. He’s there. He would give His life away for her. But so often she is too hung up on a cheaper love that will always let her down. It’s okay though.. we know how those stories always end. After all, stories of true love and romance are made in the image of God. They reflect His heart.
Who needs to envy when we are pursued by the greatest Love of all?
God saw Her misery and how rejected she felt.. and He decided to bless Leah’s womb so that she could have a baby, and she did. I imagine God knew that would cheer her right up!
‘Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said,
“It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surly my husband will love me now.”‘
Instead of receiving the loving kindness behind this gift which was from God Himself, Leah misses the message because she is completely focused on her number one goal, getting Jacob to love her back.
Disco Balls & Jesus’s Kindness
Going back to the teenager in the beginning of this article, that little girl was so desperate for love, acceptance, and approval from people at school, but now looking back as an adult I see God’s kindness at play throughout the whole story. Much like Leah and Rachel’s story, much like your own story.
He was always there. Celebrating His daughters and sons. Celebrating you. Celebrating us. But the things in the world and the approval and validation of man can be more appealing at the time.
At the age of 20. I had an encounter with God’s kindness that finally caught my attention. And it opened my eyes to a part of God’s heart I’d never known before.
‘I entered the club.
With the girls.
Turning heads as we go.
Who cares what they say.
With my insecurities at bay, straight to the bar.
Quickly, drink the ache away. .
5, 4, 3, 2, 1
I went to the toilet and in the cubicle, yes.. IN the cubicle;
God’s Presence washed over me.
I know it might sound strange.
But this was just as real as the ground I stood on.
Undeniably. Unexpected. Interrupted.
I wasn’t even drunk yet!
I saw a vision of Jesus.
A warm smile.
A kind love that revealed all of my mess but in the most caring way.
I didn’t feel judged. Or criticised.
I felt deeply known and loved.
I heard Jesus say “Precious daughter, this is not the path I have for you” ..
In the most gentle, disarming tone I could have ever imagined.
“Well, this isn’t the distant tyrant God I imagined Him being” I thought.
A tear came to my eye.
“I want to be better than this” I thought.
He is Kind.
This kindness filled the void in my heart.
The void I’d be trying to fill my whole life’
Leah continued to go through this cycle in her life of jealousy of Jacob’s love for her sister, to trying perform her way to getting this love for herself. She kept having children and hoping that this would get her the love she needed. Everyday this would have been her sole purpose, her striving, the splinter in her mind. “If I could just get this love from Jacob, then I’ll be okay.” But it never got her anywhere.
Us humans, we like chasing things. The happily ever after, the successful career, the perfect life, likes and followers on the gram, it’s a race that goes round in a circle. Totally, utterly, a waste of our time.
And then finally, Leah stopped the cycle.
‘She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
‘When Rachel saw that she was not bearing any children, she became jealous of her sister.
So she said to Jacob, “Give me children or I’ll die!”‘
Rachel wasn’t able to conceive at this point, so out of her jealousy she got Jacob to impregnate her servant! And Rachel took her servants baby for herself. Guys. This is some serious drama. Jacob is now sleeping with multiple women, and Rachel is now the one riddled with envy.
‘Then Rachel said, I have had great struggle with my sister, and I have won.”‘
Pride and Envy: Sins or Twins?
Now, this is just my theory but I wonder if Rachel’s Pride was being fed by Leah’s Envy; and the moment Leah stopped the toxic cycle of thinking in her life, Rachel’s pride wasn’t being fed anymore and it uncovered her own Envy. Pride and Envy thrive off each other.
Pride will affect the way we think about others because our possessions, privileges, spiritual maturity, or titles become the source of where we find our self worth. It’s a trap. This manifests by looking down on anyone without ‘fill in the blank‘ or who we consider to have less gifting or are less spiritual than ourselves. Pretty gross really. And Envy will affect the way we think about those who have more recognition, success or status. And when Envy gets what she wants, it manifests into Pride.
Pride and Envy are best friends.
But so are Humility and Kindness.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves
with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Leah and Rachel’s relationship continued to be divided over their feelings and in the midst of their quarrelling and envious rivalry God showered His kindness over them. Now let’s go into the best part: application.
Number One: Beauty For Ashes
Once in a blue moon, there will be the temptation to envy but we will talk about that in the next point. But for the broken hearts who are being crushed by envy, feeling inadequate, and insecurity and this is something that overwhelms your life frequently then there is freedom and victory on the horizon over this area for you. Scripture is true, God heals the broken hearted. Know that you are in the middle of your story. Sometimes God gives beauty for ashes in one moment. However, sometimes it’s a process, a journey, and fight and the key ingredient here is prayer
‘Pray and Slay.
Pray until something happens.
Pray when you feel envy overwhelm your heart.
I’ve seen prayer bring in breakthrough that breaks addictions and turns it into victory.
Jesus did this in his ministry every day.
Going about breaking chains.
That’s the Father’s business.
That’s what He’s all about.
He can free you.
Prayer is no small thing.
Rebel against envy and move in kindness instead, by faith.
Soak in scripture.
Soak in the truth of how loved you are.
You are the head, not the tail! (Duet 28:13)
He sings love songs over you (Zephanish 3:17)
He does not accuse you (Romans 8)
He gives you a sound mind (2 Tim 4:7)
And look at what you are consuming frequently on social media, TV and even friendships.
Sometimes things we watch can feed these things negatively and we need to step back sometimes.
But every person is unique, so step back, get perspective and weigh it.
Maybe change some things up.
Maybe get some distance from anything feeding Envy in your life.
So you can take some time to heal.’
Number Two: Temptation + Staying In Your Lane.
We need to change our view on temptation. Often times when we hear the word ‘temptation’, we think of this old religious word that we use when talking about ‘sexual sin’ or eating the ‘chocolate cake’ that was out of bounds. I don’t think that gives justice to the word. Temptation is relevant for to all of humanity, in all kinds of areas (the seven deadly sins). Being prideful, to be jealous, to gossip, to be stingy with our money etc. Even Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11). Envy will come to persuade us. But the truth is, Envy has nothing on you. Jesus has authority over this thing ruling in your lives (Isaiah 61, Galatians 5:13-18).. this is not about control or sin management if someone needs freedom. This is about after being set free, and resisting those little moments every now and again when Envy comes for a cuppa tea and a chat (John 10:10). Truly, pay no attention, slam the door and remember the truth and lean into Kindness instead of leaning into Envy.
No weapon formed against you shall prosper
When we look at Leah and Rachel’s story, they missed the blessings coming in their own life because they were too busy looking at each others lives. Their comparison consumed their life because their main focus was on each other. We also see this happen with King Saul when he became jealous of David. His jealous eye took him off track, and he turned his back on his own destiny in doing so.
As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”8 Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?”9
And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
– 1 Samuel 18:7
Do you have your eye on someone?
A hard hitting question, I know. When we have our eye on someone, (which is another way of describing comparison) we turn our back on our own unique destiny. We have all been there. Stay in your own lane. Bring it to God and get to the root of your resentment. Hash it out babe! You were made for your lane, not anyone else’s. There is abundance for you! Psalm 23 says ‘we lack nothing‘ .. Keep your eyes straight ahead – don’t look to the right or the left!
Kindness is the invitation to open up
and hold up another to achieve their greatest destiny, because you aren’t competing for that
anymore since you have your own destiny to fulfil.
– Hann Cann
Number Three: A Time To Heal.
Sometimes there will be times where our hearts actually ache over certain situations and we need a deeper healing and freedom.
There are so many different situations that might be consuming hearts. Seeing your friend in a loving family when that was something you didn’t have growing up. Or whether you were cheated by your partner with someone you know and there isn’t any remorse over the hurt they caused you. Maybe they even got together! Like Jacob and Rachel. Or maybe you feel like you are unlovable, and you feel you are watching everyone around you with happy lives and you are worried you may have missed the boat.
These things are deeper and need space and time to air out and process through.
If something difficult happens, go to your secret place and bring these aches and pains to Abba Father. One of His names is ‘Wonderful Counsellor’ (Isaiah 9:6) Take along as you need. You’ll even find that there are times where The Holy Spirit actually brings things up in us because He wants to bring healing. God The Father, The gardener of our souls. He is creating a beautiful garden within our hearts in relationship with us (John 15). Take time to pray over these pains. He will bring healing. Journal, pray, soak in His truth and let the tears flow when they need. Talk to people you trust.
You will bloom again.
Number Four: Be Alive In The Spirit
This point is probably the most effective point of them all. Simply, be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5)
God wants to fill you up with His presence. Don’t ever underestimate the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. If you take one thing from this article, take this away. I could talk about this all day every day, but I really want to encourage you to pursue this. When we are filled by His Spirit, freedom happens, addictions are broken, fear is cast out. And somehow, those burdens are replaced with fruits of Kindness, Faithfulness, Love, Joy.. Beauty for ashes. He does it. He’s the only one who can do it. Invite God to fill you, pray for it, seek it, burn for it. You may have even experienced God filling your heart whilst you’ve been reading this blog; which is my only prayer for this series. Why not spend some time quietly before the Lord now in whatever way you are comfortable and just be open to hear Him speak.
For further reading on this (Galatians 5, The entire book of Acts, 2 Corinthians 3:17, The Gospels) and may I also recommend to all the movie lovers here ‘Holy Ghost‘ by Darren Wilson and and lastly the book ‘God’s Generals‘ by Roberts Liardon, which is filled of people’s stories of the life changing power of God. Testimony is a powerful tool to stir our faith to seek God to be constantly filled with Him.
You are so loved.
With a unique destiny.
Let’s remember the tactics of Envy.
So we resist falling for her tricks.
And choose to live in the Kindness of heaven instead.
We’r at the end peeps. Has this blog impacted you? We would love to hear your thoughts! Take 5 mins now to reflect, pray and maybe write a couple of notes on how you could move forward in this area if you need too.
Next up: Wrath vs Forgiveness.
‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
for ever and ever! Amen.’