Janie Cheaney: The Tenth Commandment


MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Wednesday, July 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

Journalism is very much a performance. It’s a labor-intensive endeavor.

As so as WORLD’s chief content officer, I can tend to become very envious of outfits like The New York Times, or CNN, or even National Public Radio. They have plenty of resources. They employ hundreds, in some cases thousands of people. They seem to have no limitations whatsoever.

It doesn’t matter that my envy is professional envy. It doesn’t make it any better. It’s still envy.

Which is why I’ll say this commentary is exactly what I need to hear right now.

Maybe you do, too. Because what you’ll hear about is the cure for envy and that’s recognition, repentance, and worship.

BASHAM: And don’t forget repeat, repeat, repeat, to make it a habit. Let’s listen now to WORLD Radio commentator Janie B. Cheaney.

JANIE CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: What are you good at? That’s where the green-eyed monster will get you.

I used to make ice cream from a secret recipe. I liked to say it was the best in the world because who could prove it wasn’t? Years ago I was at a picnic where someone brought a bucket of homemade ice cream—maple. It was nowhere near as good as mine, and that’s an honest objective judgement. Even so, I resented the praise heaped upon that unassuming tub of inferior dessert.

I was like Mrs. Smith at the county fair, giving Mrs. Jones the stink eye because of the purple ribbon awarded to her strawberry-rhubarb pie when my blueberry pie clearly deserved it.

Envy is misery.

Later, when I had serious ambitions of publishing a novel, any new fiction writer who accomplished that feat, with warm accolades in the New York Times Book Review, was like a stab to the heart. And even after I published a few novels, the world remained full of writers more popular and better-reviewed than me. I knew some of them personally.

My cheeks hurt from insincere smiles when they announced their latest award; my hearty Congrats! over their latest book deal was wrung from a heart of lead.

I still feel the old familiar twinge over Christian writers more shared, liked, and retweeted than me. Besides being silly—on a par with the county fair pie competition—it’s a clear violation of the Tenth Commandment. The only cure is the Word of God – and Psalm 73 is just the ticket. Old Asaph put his finger on the problem: “I was envious of the arrogant, when I saw their prosperity . . . But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went to the sanctuary of God . . .”

There I learned that my problem wasn’t them. My problem was me. “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant: I was like a beast before you.”

Ouch.

An actual beast can be forgiven for a limited perspective; not me. When I try to squeeze my life into a one-woman cheering section, I’m like King Nebuchadnezzar clawing for grubs and snails. Nevertheless, as Asaph concludes:

“I am continually with you; You hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will receive me to glory.”

Now, that’s perspective!

It’s also the only lasting cure for the misery of envy: recognition, repentance, worship. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until it becomes a habit.

I’m still prodded by the green-eyed monster from time to time, but the prodding is more like peevish pokes. Some of this improvement may be due to age—time’s running out and I have more important things to worry about.

But I also have much better things to anticipate.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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