You may have noticed that some missionaries are always unhappy, comparing themselves with others and wishing they had what others have. The list of things they wish for seems to be endless, including such things as being able to speak the language better, better housing, higher salary, larger classes, fewer committee assignments, more spirituality, more people attending their church, less paperwork, a better vehicle, and so forth.
If you are completely honest, you have probably noticed the same thing in yourself. You have wanted what someone else has. When you get it, you feel happy for a short time; then you want more—or you want something else.
This never-ending cycle is as old as humanity itself. In Genesis 3 the serpent appealed to Eve by noting that if she ate the forbidden fruit she would be like God. She was already made in God’s image, but she wanted more. She ate, and sin entered.
In Genesis 4 Cain wanted the same blessing Abel had received, so he killed his brother (as if that would get God’s blessing). Read on through the heroes of the faith in Genesis.
- Abraham: his wife wanted the child that her maid had (Genesis 16).
- Isaac: one son wanted the blessing the other one got. (Genesis 27).
- Jacob: ten sons wanted the attention their younger brother had (Genesis 37).
Over and over unhappy people compared themselves with others and envied what others had. Since this phenomenon is so pervasive and is found throughout history, let us look at the relationship between happiness, comparison, and envy.