Some years in the past, I preached a sermon on envy. I had by no means actually thought in depth about envy earlier than, so it was fascinating to check this specific vice. It was additionally terrifying.
We usually consider pleasure because the chief of the vices and the alternative of humility, and that’s proper. C. S. Lewis referred to as pleasure “the important vice” and wrote, “It was by Satisfaction that the satan grew to become the satan: Satisfaction results in each different vice: it’s the full anti-God mind-set.”
However envy is carefully associated to pleasure and stands close to it, near the very essence of evil. We’d consider pleasure as the basis of evil, and of envy as certainly one of its obligatory and fast fruits, significantly in the way it manifests itself towards our friends.
What’s envy, precisely? It’s usually understood as an disagreeable and resentful feeling towards another person’s benefit. I like Thomas Aquinas’s transient and insightful definition of envy as “sorrow for one more’s good.”
Simply suppose for a second about how squarely malicious envy is predicated on this definition. In actual fact, simply as pleasure is the alternative of humility, envy might be regarded as the alternative of affection. Love says, “I’m completely satisfied if you’re completely satisfied, and I’m unhappy if you’re unhappy.” Envy says, “I’m completely satisfied if you’re unhappy, and I’m unhappy if you’re completely satisfied.” May something be extra horrible?
Envy is Invisible and Depressing
Envy is extra delicate and invisible than different sins. In case you are battling murderous ideas towards somebody, you often at the very least know what you’re battling. However it’s attainable to be utterly consumed with envy and never have a clue. It hides in our hearts. Like pleasure, the extra we succumb to it, the extra blind we develop into to its impact on us. The worst sins typically are like that.
Envy is among the most depressing vices. Most different vices have a tendency to provide some form of pleasure, nonetheless momentary. However envy is nothing however disagreeable, by and thru. It’s the fixed thief of pleasure.
Think about that you simply win the lottery. Are you cheerful? Not you probably have envy. Envy will instantly are available and say, “However look how a lot the federal government took. And so-and-so nonetheless has an even bigger home than I do. Why did I not win as a lot as that different individual?” And so forth.
There isn’t a pleasure in your life that can not be destroyed by envy. It doesn’t matter what you may have, envy can say, “Sure, you may need X, however you don’t have Y.”
Have you ever heard this voice earlier than, in your coronary heart?
- “Yeah, you may need gotten into that faculty, however you didn’t get into that one.”
- Or, “Yeah, you could be making good cash, however you don’t have sufficient time to get pleasure from it.”
- Or, “Yeah, your church could be rising, however you don’t have the alternatives that so-and-so has.” (Sure, ministers have ideas like this; sadly, we’re very susceptible to envy.)
The Distortion of Envy
The final word expression of envy got here within the backyard of Eden. Adam and Eve have been actually in paradise, however envy got here alongside and mentioned, “Yeah, it’s possible you’ll be in paradise, however you’re not God.” There isn’t a heaven that envy can’t make right into a hell. It blinds and distorts how we expertise heaven itself. As Derek Kidner put it, “There’s nothing so blinding as envy or grievance. This was the nerve the serpent touched in Eden, to make even paradise seem an insult.”
I am happening about this as a result of I consider that envy is a big supply of distress in our lives, typically in methods we’re not absolutely conscious of. I believe it particularly lurks on social media, the place we’re always tempted to match ourselves to others.
I would like us to see this in order that we will perceive simply how essential humility is to a lifetime of pleasure. Humility is how we battle envy. Due to this fact, there couldn’t be extra at stake within the battle between humility and envy happening in our hearts. It’s as fierce and decisive because the battle between heaven and hell.
So what does it seem like, virtually, to battle in opposition to emotions of envy and as a substitute pursue humility?
Battling Envy with Prayer
The composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein was as soon as requested which musical instrument is most tough to play. He apparently answered, “Second fiddle. I can get loads of first violinists, however to seek out somebody who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm—that’s an issue. And if we now have no second fiddle, we now have no concord.”
How powerfully insightful for all times! The world is stuffed with individuals vying to play first violin. However can we play the second fiddle with enthusiasm? Discovering our personal distinctive position and being content material in it—that is the place flourishing occurs. That is the place life will get attention-grabbing. That is the place the enjoyment comes out.
A method we will pursue that is to wish for God’s blessings on others. Sincerely want good for the primary violinists who’re within the highlight. Ask God to make them flourish.
That is tough! You may say, “However I don’t need God’s blessing on them!” Ah, however do you need to need it? Our prayers can form our wishes. The extra you pray for God’s blessing on somebody, the extra the tentacles of envy round your coronary heart are weakened.
From Envy to Pleasure
My brother Dane just lately wrote an excellent guide (I’m guessing you’ve heard of it!) entitled Mild and Lowly. Hopefully by this level you’ve picked up on the truth that I’m not Dane—however when you’re studying this text since you thought I used to be him, I’m glad you may have made it this far!
By God’s grace, I don’t suppose I’ve significantly struggled with envy over the success of Dane’s guide. However I wished to verify early on that I wouldn’t get wherever close to envy, as a result of I believed it could be a temptation.
So I made a follow, each time I heard about how God had used Dane’s guide, to wish that God would use it much more. (I can pray this sincerely as a result of it’s such a incredible guide.) Each time I hear about what number of copies have been offered, I pray much more will promote. I pray that the guide will carry on promoting till each individual on earth has 5 copies, after which we will begin delivery them into outer area to bless the aliens.
Are you able to pray for God’s blessings on these you’re tempted to envy? In fact, it will look completely different for various individuals. If the individuals you envy are the depraved individuals Asaph was describing in Psalm 73, then you definately received’t actually pray for “blessing” on them in the identical sense. You could possibly pray, although, for the blessing of their salvation.
However tragically, a lot of the time, we envy different brothers and sisters in Christ. Once we are tempted to this, praying for God’s blessing on their lives may help us substitute emotions of envy with emotions of friendship, encouragement, and goodwill.
Begin With this Prayer Right now
Lord, assist us study to play second fiddle with enthusiasm! Assist us embrace these phrases and know them as joyful phrases: it’s not about us. Give us a way of the splendor of your glory. Train us the enjoyment and freedom of spending our lives to make you identified, and unite our hearts along with everybody else serving this glorious trigger!