A Lesson from a Sprig
“Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." —Psalm 73: 1-3
It’s a fact that those who don’t believe often possess polished reputations and shining health. Their children graduate from Stanford University, and the Chamber of Commerce bestows on them community-service awards. They may even nod approvingly at your religious beliefs. From all appearances, few Christians seem to measure up to these pillars of the community.
For perspective, note this excellent expression by St. Augustine: “It is better to be the meanest number of the body than to be the highest and most important member and cut off from the body; it is better to be a little sprig in the tree joined to the root than to be an arm cut off from the root.” *
Augustine was right. When a great arm of a tree is cut off, it may be thick and lush with green leaves, but the little sprig on the tree is in a much better condition because it is joined to the tree. The other will wither and die in a short time. So it is with people of the world whom we envy. They are like great boughs cut off from the tree, for although they have talents and riches, they have no union with God.
Please don’t envy those who seem to have it better. You may live in a poor condition, you may lack riches, but you are joined to the Root of Jesse, the Vine, the Branch of the Lord.
God, please save the wicked! And save me from envying as I pray for them with compassion and empathy.
* Burroughs, Jeremiah, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, The Banner of Truth Trust, Pennsylvania, 1992, p. 196.
Taken from Diamonds in the Dust. © 1993 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530.