Seven (or is it now six?) Deadly Sins – Part 2: Envy

OK – So the first part in this shameless plug to pull in more viewers and comments did not go quite according to plan – this i feel was entirely my own fault for not doing sufficient intial (read: ‘ANY’) research and failing to clearly define what it was i was talking about at the start – my bad.

So, to hopefully make amends… on to what some (Catholic Christians who listen to the Pope e.g.) call the ‘sin’ of Envy – when and where do we see it ‘popping’ up from within and what if anything do we do to control and repel it from us?

Firstly, though a brief ‘recap’ and definition:

The idea here is to help us see when, and if, we sin (do our will over/before that of His) and so lead to ways to overcome this particular fault of ours (if we have it – and i rather fancy if we look deep enough we’ll see all of the ‘Seven’ lurking about, waiting for the next time we let our ‘Guard’ down, somewhere’s in the recesses of our mind – in our ego!)

“Envy according to the aspect of its object is contrary to charity (also known as ‘Love’), whence the soul derives its spiritual life… Charity rejoices in our neighbor’s good, while envy grieves over it.” (St) Thomas Aquinas 1225-74;

 Envy: spite and resentment at seeing the success of another.  (thefreedictionary.com); or

‘characterized by an insatiable desire; different to simple greed, however, for two main reasons. First, greed is largely associated with material goods, whereas envy may apply more generally. Second, those who commit the sin of envy desire something that someone else has which they perceive themselves as lacking. Wikipedia – Seven Deadly Sins. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins ); or

‘envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.’ – as Laz pointed out previously part of the longer list of ‘sins’ we are not to indulge in. From Gal 5:21 (also: verses 19, 20 and 26)

Clear? good! 🙂

What do i envy of others? Truth be told it is money, mostly. Rarely, it is having someone close who truly Understands me and with whom i can share ‘life’. I don’t of course envy the long hours some (most) have spent previously earning their money or the many tribulations that often come along with living with someone who is not exactly like you in every single respect. This tends to lead me to remain ‘envious’ of those two things until i can figure out a way to ‘cheat’ – or to just knuckle under and do whatever it takes… or learn that neither of those two things will, of themselves, make me in any way any more full of Joy and happiness (not on their own at any rate). 

What do i do to overcome it? Hmmm…Try to observe it as it happens – see what starts it off. then try to understand why i ‘want’ a thing i am envying in someone else. See what has lead me to that ‘desire’. then study that desire and want and find what is at it’s ‘core’ – then eliminate the false ‘need’ from within me so that the True inner ‘need’ can be revealed, claimed and owned. In Jesus Name – Amen.

I don’t personally feel I’m all that ‘big’ on envy but this post is hopefully not just about me and my ‘sin’ but about you and yours (such as may exist? 😉 )

OK – over to you all 😉 ( Sorry Mand!)

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Seven (or is it now six?) Deadly Sins – Part 2: Envy

  1. I find that I am often most envious of those who appear to have a closer or “easier” relationship with God than I do and that’s hard to deal with because it is something I need to actively pursue yet I cannot force it.

    What I do when it happens is remind myself that God gives us as much as we can handle. When I really think about it I realize that my relationship with God IS close and easy when I stop fighting him all the time.

    And then I remember how limitless God is and how he is in everything and everyone and is everywhere and I feel silly for getting caught up in the worldly thoughts of “there’s not enough to go around!”

    I am also envious of people with sixpack abs and thighs that do not rub together like courderoy when they walk but my genes, unfortunately, run in the opposite direction. So I remind myself that God loves me just the way I am and try not to be too bitter about it. 😉

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  2. Welcome Ethel!, Thanks for giving me (and us) your valuable input! 🙂

    Your comments bring up some very interesting points that i am sure many here would do well to consider.

    We ‘need to actively persue but cannot force’ (His Love and our relationship with Him)

    This is very true of course but here is the way i see it and i hope others can see it also…

    The Love is ALWAYS there and is aimed at us/is there for us (within and without) so we have no need to ‘force’ Him to Love us ‘more’ – what we do need however is to make us ‘less’ (self-less see Tam’s Blog) and this will allow us to become closer to Him in our relationship with Him!

    We cannot do works to achieve or ‘acquire’ His Love – but we most certainly can do works on OURSELF to remove from us the things we have cleaved to of the earth that prevent us from knowing Him as fully and continually as we could do.

    I love that you bear in mind God is limitless and there is Always enough of Him for everyone to have ‘all to themselves’ 😉

    There is no need for Economising Our God! 🙂

    You said it very well indeed! – ‘When I really think about it I realize that my relationship with God IS close and easy when I stop fighting him all the time.’

    The ‘I’ of ego is what ‘fights’ Him and is what we can work on to eliminate from within us – if we realise this is so and necessary and possible to achieve on our ‘own’ (but He (Jesus) is a part of the process working with and for us if we seek Him and His Help!)

    Just as a Father Loves their own Child – even if they see the child taking drugs or otherwise doing themselves harm, so to God Loves us, no matter what shape they are in.

    But in a similar fashion a Father would rather see their child whole and healthy and Happy, and not deliberately choosing to harm themselves in body, mind, or Spirit.

    As i am sometimes envious of those who have money and yet am not envious of the amount of hard work and discipline and perhaps ‘going without’ some things those others have had to do to get their money – are you at all envious of the things those with 6 packs do to get and keep them??

    Frequently envy is VERY ‘short-sighted’ i believe. 😉

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  3. Could we not say that ‘envy’ of something or someone is the beginning of what it is to ‘covet’?

    Or might that be vice versa? 😉

    I never understood the prohibition against coveting. Apologies to George Carlin, but coveting keeps the economy going! Doesn’t it? The whole of western society is rooted in coveting that which you don’t have. Consumerism is institutionalized coveting! Your friend buys a shiny new iPhone and you want one too. That’s coveting. 🙂

    I think sometimes people equate covet and envy.

    But, they aren’t synonymous.

    As I said coveting makes possible a capitalistic and modern society. (We could go for years discussing the pros and cons of that!)

    I can see how coveting one of a kind things is inappropriate though…

    “Ron covets Angelina Jolie. As a result Ron envies Brad Pitt. However Ron is married and Angelina is not interested in Ron.”

    As long as Ron doesn’t act on his envy by kidnapping Angelina and/or killing Brad Pitt, is the envy still wrong?

    Envy can consume a person so yes it can result in evil action.

    Envy in and of itself is not evil though!

    R.

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  4. Good morning, Love (it’s still AM here for a while anyway)!

    I promise to stay away from word studies this time to stick with your definitions and my own experiences with them. (I may add a couple of scriptures to validate them though =).

    It seems so far, the emphasis has been on envious desires for money or things. That certainly can relate to this definition you quoted from wikipeda:
    “those who commit the sin of envy desire something that someone else has which they perceive themselves as lacking”.

    But since I’m a tightwad (ask my husband) it’s not material things that create envy in me – rather other people’s ‘giftings’.

    For those of us involved in using God-given and/or humanly developed ‘talents’ in ministry, I think envy comes into play far more often than we’d like to admit (especially to ourselves).

    Okay, so here’s my most memorable experience with it:
    My husband and I were serving as worship leaders for several years and were also filling in as ‘interim’ (volunteer) youth leaders in a church for a short time until a full time youth pastor could be hired. A couple was hired several months later, and we continued as volunteer youth workers with them.

    My personal problem came because the wife of the youth pastor was extremely talented, confident, and personable (she actually had a lot more to offer in ministry than her husband did).

    So, I immediately started feeling inadequate by comparison. She could sing better, play piano better (though neither of us were great at that), and relate to people better (had a more ‘outgoing’ personality). On top of all that, she had the same first name as mine(which isn’t all that common)! Okay, anybody with me yet??

    I knew that her abilities were God-given, and that she was a wonderful Spirit-filled woman who had much to offer to the church Body there (including me).

    But, to my shame, all of that awareness only ended up creating in me a desire to ‘shut down’ in those areas where I felt inferior to her. That seemed to be the only way to avert the comparisons I thought others would be making too (of course that was probably not at all true).

    2 Cor. 10:12 addresses the foolishness of such destructive comparisons, and it’s just like our enemy to trick us into ‘shortcircuiting’ our full potential (for the benefit of ALL) as a result.

    I was really only hurting myself, not her (except maybe also others in the congregation by witholding all I had to offer them).

    I’m really glad she was in a place of ‘authority’ over me because if it had been the other way around, I can see how I would have been tempted to find a way to ‘shut her down’ instead.

    They didn’t stay very long (less than 2 years I think) because her husband didn’t have her ‘people skills’ or patience, and ‘gave up on us’ within that amount of time to go elsewhere.

    So, I didn’t have to deal with that anymore, but was glad of the awareness the whole experience brought of that ‘green monster’ within us all.

    In looking back at it, I think the way I should have handled it was to try to get to know her better, and so learn to benefit personally from her strengths. Who knows but I may have had strengths she could have benefitted from as well?
    I’m just thankful my ‘passive personality’ (at THAT TIME for any who might NOW disagree??) kept me from letting my weakness be known outwardly.

    I do think it’s something anyone in public ministry needs to constantly be accountable for though. In a world that applauds ‘performance’ and encourages competition, envy is a huge ‘pitfall’ of the enemy to divide us from one another and hinder the growth of Christ’s Body as a whole.

    Sadly, I think it’s often the ones we feel inferior to that we want to ‘push away’ as a result. Yet they could be the very ones the Lord knows can rescue us from that ‘monster’ who seeks to destroy us and the unity of His Body on earth.

    Yep, it’s afternoon now, but probably morning again to you by the time you’ll read this =}.’Hope I ‘behaved myself’ this time =}??!!

    D-

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  5. And Robert, that’s why ‘pure’ capitalism does not work with pure ‘Christianity’. No matter what we do, even we ‘give’ someone a gift, we almost always, maybe even subconsciously, expect something in return. That’s why we don’t approve of our people in government receiving gifts.

    But I don’t think we need to ‘covet’ in order to keep the economy moving along. To want to satisfy our needs for food shelter and clothing is not covetous – even the Amish have an economy. But our Western economy (and increasingly the rest of the worlds) is largely fueled by envy. Consumerism run amok. There are people who have found a ‘way’ to live off this treadmill.

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  6. I envy the grace with which some people can perform difficult maneuvers. I envied Fred Astaire.

    I envy the ease with which some other people can influence others. I envy (insert latest heartthrob)’s ability to enthrall women with just a smile. I envied Warren Beatty.

    I envy how some people can be spontaneously clever and funny. I envied Bob Hope.

    I don’t consider all this envy a problem because I don’t dwell on it. If anything I gives me more motivation to work harder at what I want.

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  7. Laz – please don’t ever stop with the word studies and scripture lessons – please? And i’m always impressed with how well EVERYONE behaves themselves over here (except that cheeky young Tam! – ohhhh! that’s gonna get me some trouble, let me tell you!) You think your experience with the other D has enabled you to overcome ALL of the green-eyed monster? or just The One of people with talent and your name? 🙂

    Robert – indeed covetting is very similar to envy and yes, we could spend an entire dicussion or six on consumerism, but i will leave that for another blog (already went into it a bit over at In Worship’s blog!) I have to disagree with the envy is not evil however, although i see why you feel so.

    Let me correct your understanding of what the topic is firstly though.

    Covetting (and in this instance also envy) is not wantng something LIKE what your neighbour has – so you zip out and buy an I-phone just because Brad next door has one (when really it’s because Apple have carefully devised an advertising campaign that makes you think owning one will make you happier than you currently are and you can avoid that feeling until you see how happy Brad is with his after he’s finished waving it under your nose and saying about all the great new things he can do with it!) 😉

    No – Envy is wanting what Brad has FOR YOURSELF! – i want it” i deserve it MORE than he does” – I’ll go and TAKE IT from him!!!

    Remember the times the ten commandments were written in – no mass consumerism and productionlines back then – you saw, you wanted, you TOOK end of! ) or if it was something (like happiness) you could not take off someone and get for yourself (like they could a wife) you simply killed the owner of the happiness – or ruined it for him by killing his family perhaps – or salting his fields so he could not grow crops – or slaugtering his herd maybe – you know – fun sort of stuff like that – get the difference there now?

    But is envy any less evil today?

    The answer to the question is in what sort of person are you if you envy something someone else has?

    Will you ever be happy? and if you are a Christian – will you ever see God’s Kingdom if you still envy?

    If you envy someone something of theirs (a talent eg) it is your ego saying – i’m not really as good as HIm/Her. I want to be more like THEM!

    The whole key to hapiness and to seeing God is to be happy with who and what you are and working on THAT – not on comparing yourself to other human beings.

    We all have enough work to do on ourselves without worrying about looking at others for our ideas of happiness. ( or wanting what someone else has as a result of either ‘God’s Gift’ TO THEM – or years of efort and dedication that is the only thing we should ever look at an ‘want’ of another – the same level of effort we put into ourselves as they did into themselves!

    Ed – you above all so far seem to have the ‘right’ idea (apologies to any i have thus slighted – i’m just going on what you said above and what you did to overcome it or learn from it.

    I mean you got something (i hope?) from your feelings of ‘envy’ – a desire to IMPROVE the man you were (are). (Hopefully this was not just so you could rub Ataire’s, Beatty’s or Hope’s noses in just how well you could dance, get girls or be funny beter than them?- this would be a B A D (bad) idea! 😉 ) I think Robert and Ed have missed completely what Thomas Aquinas said so let me repeat it..

    According to HOW (and What it is) we envy, we do not demonstrate or possess LOVE – the Love of God within us. That which refreshes our Soul.

    It is LOVE – Love of our highest self – Love of our neighbours, brothers and sisters and Love of God that will bring us together.

    It is the pushing away of this Love that we should be pushing away from within us – eliminating totally.

    Envying others is not loving them – or our(higher)selves – or God.

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  8. Love,

    Thanks for the ‘go ahead’ with word studies though I don’t have time for that right now(past my bedtime already =).

    I so agree with your comments (of 11:31 AM – in case others get in between while I’m writing)!!

    It is so true that envy hurts ourselves and others who are the objects of it (except maybe those ‘distant’ ones of Ed’s =).

    And in answer to your question if I’ve totally conquered the ‘green monster’ because of that one experience—absolutely NOT. I’ve no doubt I’ll be fighting it until the day I die.

    But the key is ‘fighting it’ because I’m aware of its presence in me, willing to confess it to others, and relying on God to ‘show me the way of escape’ from it (1 Cor. 10:13).

    You were also so right about the destructive nature of comparisons that prevent us from learning and growing through others’ strengths we might tend to ‘envy’.

    God has created us as unique human beings (‘becomings’?), and every experience/opportunity/relationship is a gift from Him to mold us into the ‘best’ WE can be. We don’t have to be THE ‘best’, just strive to be ‘our best’ for His glory and the benefit of others He’s placed us with in the process.

    “It is LOVE – Love of our highest self – Love of our neighbours, brothers and sisters and Love of God that will bring us together.”

    AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!

    D-

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  9. I’m wondering if envy and jealousy are the same. When I think of envy I can hear my mom saying, “you’re a jealous person, aren’t you, Michelle?” I’d have to say “yes” – and I hate it.

    I experience it much the same as Lazarus. (thanks for your honesty 😉 ) Learning to be content in the gifts God has given me is a struggle, but I’m getting there, slowly…repeating lesson after lesson after lesson…

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  10. Your welcome Michelle, i said i don’t pass on forwards that engender criticism or false words – but that one ‘got’ to me and it seemed ‘worthy’ so…

    Envy Jealousness and Covetting all seem linked and they are in some ways but you are closer than my friend Robert.

    Envy is closer to jealousy.

    The difference is envy is for the possessions (material as well as ‘spiritual’) of someone else while Jealousy is of the person themselves and especialy relates to interpersonal rivalry. (I want to be better than them). Inordinate and wrongful feelings of same to be exact. I suspect Laz had a slight case of that with her ‘rival’ ;-)As stated they are the opposite of the Love we should all show one another.

    Covetousness relates more to the wanting of an actual object and as Robert pointed out with the i-phone that is not necessarily in the same league as the envy we are referring to as a D.S..

    And before anyone asks…

    The ‘Jealous’ God is defined as the Intollerance of UNfaithfullness or rivalry so clearly, in this, God sins not. 🙂

    Getting Clear all?

    Love your ‘enemy’ – don’t envy them or be jealous… and don’t covet your neighbours wife’s ass!

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  11. WHA? What’iddo??

    OH! – ‘That’! – isn’t that the 9th commandment or something??? O:- )

    i guess i better go to my room before Tam sends me there huh? 😉

    Wait a minit – i’m already IN my room!?

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