“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice…”James 3:16 ESV
I started writing this article whilst in West Africa. I recently spent 6 weeks in Ghana and Togo and aside from having the most wonderful experience I was also able to get an insight into the culture, lifestyle and mentality of many West African inhabitants. Let me share with you one of my main observations…
On my way travelling from Ghana to Togo, my friend received some bad news – the older brother of his friend died at aged 42. There was no particular cause of death, so his friends and family were (and still are) convinced that it is the work of envy in the form of witchcraft – something that is all too common in Africa…
Before continuing, I must state that of course, not every death or misfortune in Africa is as a result of witchcraft, but the unfortunate truth is that witchcraft and curses are very common, particularly in this part of the world. So much so, that many of the West African films feature a visit to a witchdoctor or some form of witchcraft being performed.
During my time here I have heard many similar stories to the one above. The common thread is that the people to whom this has been done were often the main provider for their families. In the case of the 42-year old gentleman – he was the founder and MD of a successful consultancy. Not only was he the sole breadwinner for his immediate family, but also the main provider for his extended family. His death was “unexplained”. When a person is a victim of envy in the form of curses or witchcraft, they may not always die, but something may happen to them, which will impede them from being able to continue on their path to success – a sudden accident, a mysterious sickness and so on…
Where, then does this leave the dependant families of those victims? Often, they are left struggling to make ends meet, relying on the handouts of other relatives and doing whatever small jobs they may find in order to make some money. It is a vicious cycle in which poverty abounds!
The bible says that poverty in the world will not cease, but this is not because God wants it that way – it is because the minds of people are corrupt. Africa is a prime example of this – the land is rich, but most of its people are poor. One of the many reasons for this poverty is envy. People would rather see others suffer than to be living better lives than them.
The envy of others becoming more successful not only creates division, but leads people to try to eliminate the main provider. When that provider is not founded in God, he can fall victim to these evil schemes and often his future and the future of his dependents are greatly affected.
Envy is a very dangerous thing. It can lead people to perform the cruellest of acts and those who witness the results of envy often become paranoid and fearful for their own lives. This has been another big observation of mine since being here. Many people try to hide their successes and achievements for fear of what others may try to do to them, as a result of jealousy and envy. Some are even afraid of achieving anything big! They would rather live simple lives than have people being envious of them, so they never reach their full potential. This mentality is not the solution…
No individual has the power to singlehandedly protect himself or his loved ones from the wicked intentions of others – the only One who can do this is God. There is no power greater than God – fact. He created all that is in existence and therefore has authority over it. So, when we live our lives under His shelter (doing what pleases Him, taking His advice, constantly communicating with Him etc) we have absolutely no need to fear! He becomes like our personal Bodyguard!
We cannot control how others view us and what they think of us. Neither should we impede ourselves from reaching our full potential for fear of how people may react. When we are confident in our God, it is impossible for us to be affected by the envy and jealousy of others.
Jeremiah put it perfectly when he said: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters…and will not fear when heat comes…nor will cease from yielding fruit” *
So, let us soar ahead, having our confidence fully in our God. For, He is the Provider who not only gives us life, but can never, ever be put to death.
*Jeremiah chapter 17:7-8