Cars are just machines, vehicles of transportation, merely means of moving from one place to another. But, boy, the new ones sure are nice! Don’t you just love that new car smell, the way it rides and handles, all the new features and gadgets? Trouble is, I don’t ever get one! Everyone else seems to drive them – gets to experience all that “new” stuff – but me. Yeah, I guess you could say I’m a little envious. The dictionary defines envy as “a feeling of discontent aroused by someone else’s possession of an object one would like to have himself.”
We all experience little tinges of “discontent” when someone else gets a new car, new clothes, the latest computer; that’s normal. But we must guard against allowing our momentary envy to cause us to act irresponsibly. We are bombarded daily with advertising that attempts to convince us we ought to have everything we want. No money? No problem! Just charge it – “no payment for six months.” Bad credit? “We fix credit problems, just come by right now and we’ll fix you up with that new…” We are conditioned to act on impulse, and that is not good.
The Bible tells us to be content with what we have and to live within our means. It is not wrong to want something new or nicer. But we must be cautious in how we acquire it. When Paul wrote in Philippians 4.11 he had “learned to be content,” he used a word that refers to an inner state of contentment that needs nothing extra or external to sustain it. Such contentment puts envy in its place every time. It helps us become the righteous stewards of what God has entrusted to our care.
Because the world has no hope beyond the world, those of the world place great value on acquiring the world’s wealth, luxury, comfort, and beauty. Status and appearance mean everything. A TV commercial features a famous tennis player dramatically stating, “Image is everything!” We are evidently supposed to believe that. Some, perhaps many, do, but what a high price to pay for a cheap moment.
If you can afford it, enjoy your new “whatever” and be happy with your friends when they have new stuff. Just be careful out there – don’t let envy get the best of you.