4 I also observed that people work hard and become good at what they do only out of mutual envy. This too is pointless, just wind chasing.
5 Fools fold their hands and eat their own flesh.
6 But better is resting with one handful than working hard for two fistfuls and chasing after wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4-6, CEB
I have a friend who, I need to say right up front, I truly love. I admire him, respect him, and look up to him. I’m also jealous of him. He’s also a pastor and lives in a different part of the country. In many ways my jealousy stems from the fact that he’s gifted in the areas where I’m weak: he’s a dynamic captivating speaker who people want to rally around because he’s just that charismatic. And it seems to come so naturally (although, who knows?). As is the case in every comparison, I am strong in some areas where he is weak, but sometimes I wonder if I would trade my strengths for his.
People look at him and see someone smart. Someone who knows what he’s talking about. People see someone motivating and inspiring. And I’m jealous. I want to receive the kind of praise that I perceive that he gets. I will work harder because I look out of the corner of my eye and see him.
And that’s just wind chasing. It’s vanity. It’s the desire to have two fistfuls when one will do. Here’s reality: I love everything about my life. I feel appreciated, loved, supported in my work. I don’t have money problems. I get along well with my family. I love my wife and she loves me. I love my house. I even have more than one awesome guitar (more wind chasing).
And yet when I look over my shoulder I see my friend. Like I said, I truly love him and respect him…that’s why I’m jealous! I bring all this up as a way of saying: Here’s my baggage, now spend some time considering if you have baggage of your own like this. You might, you might not. I have people in my life who are helping me work through my envy…but I couldn’t get that help if I didn’t know it was there. I want my life and my work to be meaningful simply because I enjoy it (which I do) and not because I need to be like someone else. If I could internalize that, maybe I’d be on the same page with this here passage.