There exists a tendency among many, however, to brag of certain personal characteristics. Humility is something I have heard people brag about. "Well, I live humbly..." said concerning their 'humble' home, or "I'm nobody, just a humble man." It is clear when this is presented as a personal characteristic which someone claims to possess, that it is seen as a positive character trait; something they are proud to claim. Yet, I have never heard anyone say, "I wish I had that much humility!" or, "God, please make me more humble." No, no one wants humility. Yet people claim it like a birthright. Another such attribute people tend to brag about is, "I'm just myself." "I won't let education, or success, or money change me." Yet, no one ever prays that they stay just the way they are, or that God will let them be themselves until they die.
No, the reality of the matter is, or rather seems to me to be, that the attributes in the second paragraph above are consolation prizes we claim to compensate for our own lack of any of the attributes mentioned in the first paragraph. They function as a sort of "sour grapes." We don't really admit wanting them anyways, at least as far as the first paragraph goes. And, nobody can deny we have those attributes in the second paragraph, for they are subjective traits. I may, after all, be humble for all you know! At least, I dare you to prove I'm not. Hehehe.
The fact is, I have seen people who are humble, poor, and uneducated all three. But, their attitudes of anger and bitterness made them seem ugly and crass. They were proud of being poor. They had children who ran off to Vegas, trying to make fast money. And, they died without the religion they bragged had given them such humility of spirit. Likewise, I have seen educated CEO's and business tycoons who were generous philanthropic souls, or lived out their lives in a wheelchair, and they shaped the world we live in, while never using the word humble and gladly embracing change. Of course, we all know people who fit in the opposite categories, as well.
So, I believe that the real question we should be asking ourselves is not:
How much money, education, health or good looks do our neighbors have? nor How much humility and real-ness do I have? But, we need to concern ourselves with the output and function of our own education, income, and health/beauty. Each of these "possessions" are in reality tools that we use to build the lives that we want. And, we all have our own set of tools for achieving personal happiness and satisfaction. So, what is there to be envious of in others? Afterall, if you are investing it in something outside yourself, what is there to brag about anyways?
I've mentioned the quote from C. S. Lewis before, where Lewis tells about a father who gives his child 6 pence to buy the father a gift. The child brings the father a gift, and is happy to be able to give to the father he loves, and the father is happy to receive the gift as evidence of the child's love, though he is now 6 pence, none the richer. (-from Mere Christianity) That is the point we find ourselves, with our net worth, our education, and our health and physical beauty. We are 6 pence none the richer, for as Apostle Paul said, we all received our talents form God. Having received them, how can we brag about gifts?
1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you to differ from another? and what have you that you did not receive? now if you did receive it, why do you glory, as if you had not received it?
Seeing that everything you have is given to you by God, what do you have to either boast about or to envy?