Turning Green WOMEN’S MINISTRIES
My large colored pencil set has many shades of green. Some have fancy French names such as zeste de lime or vert celadon. But the pencil named kelp green is a dark, dirty color. It was brought to my attention lately that my heart sometimes turns this dark and dirty green. “When?” do you ask? The times when I am envious — green with envy, an undesirable, ugly hue. Desiring the things others have, what they do,
places they go, their leisure time, oſten call up this nasty green when my heart is not right. Yes, I am a pastor’s wife and have this vice. In fact, I think that some of us in that position are especially vulnerable to being envious. Many ministry wives do lack the possessions, finances or time that other women have, and sometimes when we get together, a “pity party” materializes. Tis seldom encourages each other toward good works, so we could color this meeting vert fumier (green manure). During a particularly covetous January morning
not long ago, for some reason I was reading the May 23 reading in Paul David Tripp’s book New Morning Mercies1. Dr. Tripp pointed out seven things that prepare hearts for envy. I was “nailed!” Te seven attributes that he penned revealed the seriousness of my envy problem, or more cor- rectly, my sin problem. Aſter listing the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, the apostle Paul speaks strongly against envy in verse 26, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Since envy is not just a depravity of mine but also a universal vice, below I will add Dr. Tripp’s main points (in bold) with a few comments of my own aſterwards. 1. Envy is forgetful. Our thoughts are omitting the never-ending list of blessings that God has provided for us. Te old hymn “Count Your Blessings” correctly says that naming our bless- ings one by one has great merits. Focusing on
what we do have keeps us from looking at what we don’t have.
2. Envy misunderstands blessings. Laura Story’s song, “Blessings,” says it well: “What if your blessings come through raindrops … tears … and a thousand sleepless nights?” Te trials of not having everything we desire cause us to be de- pendent on him and make us more Christ like.
3. Envy is selfish. It is easy to be sucked into the worldly-thinking pattern that life is about me. Our American culture shouts out the message that life is all about my comfort, not about God’s plan and glory.
4. Envy is self-righteous. Te sacrifices I make (which are really quite small) can make me feel like I certainly deserve more than I have. But we all deserve punishment, and it is only by God’s grace that God approves of us and we have anything at all.
5. Envy is shortsighted. I am what people might call a “project person,” and the list of jobs I need to do today is constantly on my mind. But my meditations need to include the great rewards and final destination that come in the future.
6. Envy questions God’s wisdom and goodness. If I could have planned my life, it would have been much more materialistic and would not contain trials of any kind. When I envy I am dissatisfied with God’s wise and good plan for me that does include tribulation.
7. Envy is impatient. While cooking up a storm for Tanksgiving Dinner, my microwave oven smoked and died. Depending on it to get me through my preparation list, I complained and wanted it fixed now. Envy is also in a hurry to complain and demands its blessings immedi- ately.
At this time of year, I long for spring and the green shades it brings. But I pray that the dark and dirty green will stay on the far side of the hill. I pray for a thankful, humble and patient heart.
Sharon Skillman ministers with her husband John at Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church in Lustre, Mont.
1Tripp, Paul David. New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional. Wheaton: Crossway. 2014. Fellowship Focus, March/April 2016 7
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