Have you ever reacted to someone’s good fortune with Envy? It’s scary. We surprise ourselves because we should be happy for them and rejoice in their good fortune. But, something within us resents it.
It is one of the seven deadly sins, and all of us, Christian and non-Christian, can get caught up in its debilitating web.
In our narcissistic, self-centered, me-oriented society, we all become consumer coveters. We are sold by advertising that we deserve all sorts of things that we can’t afford or aren’t willing to work hard enough to achieve. We have to “keep up with the Kardashians!”
Every young girl wants the wedding that costs her family six figures, and can’t understand why mom and dad balk at the cost. After all, the media says she deserves her “special day!”
Every couple covets the huge house, swimming pool, a garage full of expensive luxury cars, and a wardrobe right off the Paris runways. And, when we can’t have them, we are envious of those that do.
And, worse yet, we elevate those that do to celebrity status. Our envy makes them stars!
“Envy undermines happiness – it generates pain from what others possess, instead of pleasure from one’s own possessions.” –Bertrand Russell
Let’s not confuse envy with jealousy. Jealousy is a fear of losing what we have to another. Envy is rejoicing in someone’s suffering and weeping at their blessings! We are fixated on counting other peoples blessings, while ignoring our own.
What is the correct Christian response to our feelings of envy?
Saint Paul, in the 12th chapter of Romans, warned that envy was a danger, even in the early Christian communities. He instructed us in mutual, or, as we call it, brotherly love. (Verses 9-21) Whether it’s a promotion, engagement, or a new grandchild, we are called to rejoice with those who rejoice. And if it is an illness, disease, or death, we are called to weep with those who weep.
Let’s spend some time each week being grateful for what we have, the gifts and skills we possess, and the blessings we have received. Let’s pray that we can have a healthy belief in ourselves, and banish envy from our hearts.
If envy undermines happiness, then, gratitude and mutual love for one anther will help us put the sin of envy behind us in 2014, and lead a happier, more grateful life.
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