As noted in my earlier post, envy plays a large role in the events of Holy Week. Strangely, it is a passion which is rarely mentioned in our culture, even though the Fathers (at least some) thought of it as the root of all sin. We frequently think of pride as the root of all sin, but some of the Father’s note that pride, unlike envy, can be completely private, whereas envy always seeks harm for another.
Many times the sins we think of as pride, are, in fact, envy, insomuch as they are directed at other human beings. We envy their success, their “good fortune,” and many other such things. If we examine our heart carefully we will discover envy to frequently be at the root of anger, our sense of injustice and unfairness. The first murder, Abel’s death at the hand of his brother, is clearly the result of envy.
Even Judas is described as envious in the hymns of the Church, as well as the rulers of Israel by the Scriptures themselves. Sometimes in our “free-market” society, our failure and the envy it engenders gets turned against us and we condemn ourselves because we are not as clever as others. The basic inequalities of life become the source of either anger towards others of self-loathing depending on our own personality (and sometime a mixture of both).
The great difficulty with having a God is the fundamental requirement that we renounce envy. As one friend told me, “The most important thing to know about God is that you are not Him.” And this is something that I must learn to be content with. God is the Lord of the universe and not me. Things work together for good according to His own redemptive plan and not according to my secret machinations.
Envy is perhaps the most subtle of sins. Even in the desert where no one possesses anything, there is always something about another that we can find to envy. Our adversary, himself dominated by his envy of God, will always have envious suggestions to make to us.
To combat envy several things are necessary:
We must believe that God is good.
We must believe that God’s will for us in particular is good.
We must believe that God’s goodness is without limit.
We must believe that God’s goodness, shed upon someone else, does not come at our expense.
Thus we can “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” We can see that it is possible to turn our lives over completely to God and trust Him in all things. We can bless who we are and where we are (even if our own sins and limitations have made of our lives a difficulty). God is good. We need not envy.
A friend sent me a short video this morning. It’s from the evangelical world, and is well worth watching, particularly if you feel that you’ve come out on the short end of life and envy has power in your soul.
Just in case you thought your situation was as bad as it gets. Take a look at this video testimony and give thanks to God.