Often when people refer to something being a slippery slope, it is said in the context of a fairly banal action that may lead to an unintended consequence if taken to the extreme. When I was in Bible College it was feared that if blue jeans were allowed in class what might be next? People may become so casual they may attend class in the buff! As you can see, some slopes are more slippery than others.
In Psalm 73 Asaph records a time when he came close to the edge of a cliff and almost lost his footing. It wasn’t so much because of an action that he did or didn’t take, but an attitude that he allowed to harbour in his heart.
What was his heart attitude?
At some point we have all been there. We have envied the person next to us, desiring the prestige, position, beauty or bank account that they have. We look at our paltry place in life and long to be like them. For the Christian this can be even more frustrating because many times the wicked prosper while the righteous flounder. What is the deal with that?
Green is often the color associated with envy. However, it is much darker and destructive in reality. When we let envy set in it can lead to very ugly consequences. Asaph found this out first hand as pain and bitterness that had cemented into his psyche because of his envy. It had blurred his perspective-making him foolish and ignorant (vs. 21-22).
So how did Asaph come to his senses before falling off the cliff? He came to a few key realizations:
1) He belonged to God
We lose perspective when we are straining to see the success of others and fail to see the reality that God does not only like us, but we are loved by Him. We are his prized possession. When you get your mind around that principle it quickly puts things in perspective.
2) God was still guiding him
One of my favorite sayings is “Do not question in the darkness what God has fully revealed in the light.” When things look bleak it is very tempting to wonder where God is or what his plan is. While others prosper and we are paupers we must remember that God isn’t finished with us yet. He is still guiding us. We just need to make sure that we are following.
3) He needed to focus on God rather than others
A psalm that started out very bleak ends in triumph as Asaph proclaims “I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do” (v. 28).
If you are falling down the slippery slope of envy today, take a few minutes to refocus like Asaph did. The same God who guided him through the darkness will also guide you. He certainly has done it for me a time or two.