How to Overcome (Envy Part 5 of 5)

Fourth: embrace your true purpose.

Here’s a variation of a famous line. You’ve heard it to death: “with great power comes great responsibility.” Uncle Ben Parker should have gone deeper. With great identity comes great purpose.

In the previous posts, we have seen how John the Baptist had inoculated himself from the sinister virus of envy:

First, he acknowledged where his blessings came from (“a man can only receive what has been given him from heaven”).

Second, he accepted who he was not (“I am not the Christ…”).

Third, he based his identity on Christ (“…but I am sent ahead of Him”).

​What awesome humility! What amazing honor! His great identity was being the immediate forerunner of the Messiah. Sure, there were plenty of prophets who foretold His arrival. But it was John who got to see with his own eyes and baptized with his own hands Jesus Himself.


John concluded: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). With that great identity came a great purpose: to be the magnifying lens by which multitudes can see how beautiful Jesus is. He relished his role of exalting Christ. It had the logical consequence of diminishing him. But for the Baptist, it was a happy side-effect. His joy was made complete (v. 29).


The world says “I have this, therefore I am that.” But in God’s economy, “I am this in Christ, therefore I have that.” Great identity means great purpose which brings great joy.


I realized that my envy sprang from harboring wrong identities and purposes. It is I who wanted to become greater: in wealth, in fame, in authority. In so doing, I had left Christ out of the equation, let alone making Him greater.


One day, a startling thought came to my mind: There is a purpose why I am in the Philippines, in the 21st century. Look for that purpose.

My “who?” is not to be that highly paid fellow or that bestselling writer. My purpose is not to elevate myself to corporate or literary stardom. My true self is being a proclaimer of Christ in my own generation. When I do just that, great joy awaits me more than that corner office or six-digit royalties.


I do not claim that envy has totally disappeared. I have to guard my heart and my self-talk. But I am learning a new way of life. Instead of whining, “That guy has my life!”, I now affirm, “Christ has my life.”


May He become greater … and I, smaller.

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