“A sound heart is life to the body,
But envy is rottenness to the bones.”
Envy isn’t always obvious. Today I’d like to think about the kind of envy that presents itself as a desire to do a good job – using that as a way to keep us from noticing what it actually is.
When caring for children and the home is what you do full time, you will spend much of your time trying to problem solve. How to get the laundry running smoothly, how to make the playroom functional, how to have the living room be the playroom but still somewhere a person could sit if necessary. How to work through the temper tantrums that your toddler has begun throwing, how to make a birthday fun, how to make your grocery budget last the month. These are the sorts of problems that you work on full time.
But what if there is always a solution that is just outside of your grasp? What if all you need to do your job well is more money? A bigger home, a husband who knows what to say or build the things you think of, children who obey, a better washing machine, a dishwasher, a second car, a second income, more time, more friends, more help from someone?
What if in the course of all your problem solving the solutions are always the things that you don’t have?
Well let’s look back at this verse – a sound heart gives life to to the body. The ESV translated sound as tranquil. A still heart. A heart that isn’t grasping. A heart that is trying to solve the problems that it does have, and not the solutions that it doesn’t. A heart that is thankful for the husband it has and not the counsel it doesn’t have.
Envy of this sort isn’t just not helpful, it is downright destructive. When you are at peace with your situation, with the gifts you have been given, your bones are free to have strength. The bones of your housework, the bones of your work with your children, the bones of your relationship to your husband. When your heart is still, your bones are strong, but when you begin to envy, to look everywhere else, your foundations will fail you.
This verse describes the peace of contentment as more than just prevention – it describes it as a life-giving thing. Contentment gives life to to the body, but envy makes the bones rot.