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Week 5 Midweek Reflection: Envy

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Midweek Lenten Reflection Week 5
7 Deadly Sins: Envy

Our final capital vice (or deadly sin) that we will discuss is envy. Please read the questions and think about your answers to them (Perhaps discuss them with a friend or loved one!). After you have answered all the questions please scroll down to see my reflection on Envy.

  1. To help define envy, how is it different than greed? What are your two definitions?
  2. Two of the 10 commandments cover envy (covetousness). Please look them up and read them before answering this question. Why do you think God deemed the sin of envy worthy of taking up two spots in The 10 Commandments?
  3. Being competitive is not necessarily a bad thing. At what point does being competitive switch to being the deadly sin of envy?
  4. How does envy get in the way of our relationships with other people?
  5. How does envy get in the way of our self-image?
  6. Based on answers 4 and 5, how does envy get in the way of our relationship with God?
  7. What virtue is best suited to combat our temptation to fall into the deadly sin of envy?






























1.  To help define envy, how is it different from greed? What are your two definitions?

Greed wishes to own, collect, and earn more and more until it has everything. It will never be satisfied because it only ever wants more. Envy is angered by what others have and wishes it had it instead of them.

For example, Jim wishes to own a mansion to satisfy his urge for more things and the status that comes with it (greed). Bill sees Jim in his new mansion and is angered. Bill believes he works harder than Jim, deserves that mansion more than Jim, and therefore sees Jim as standing in the way of what Bill believes should be his (envy).

2.   Two of the 10 commandments cover envy (covetousness). Please look them up and read them before answering this question. Why do you think God deemed the sin of envy worthy of taking up to spots in The 10 Commandments?

Interesting note: It is believed that the 10 commandments are in order of importance. You follow the first, “You shall have no other gods”, and the rest will fall in line. Does this mean God didn’t think envy was important? Certainly not! It was important enough to separate into envy for property/inheritance (9) and envy for possessions (10). The 9th commandment is for the purpose of protecting what people will get, and the 10th commandment is about protecting what people already have. Either way, when you envy a neighbor’s belongings you may get so consumed by envy that you break other commandments in order get what they have.

For example, Bill kills Jim (5th) to get his mansion, Bill devises a scheme to swindle Jim out of his mansion (7th), or Bill gives false testimony to the police or Jim’s boss so that he gets fired and cannot afford the mansion anymore (8th).

3. Being competitive is not necessarily a bad thing. At what point does being competitive switch to being the deadly sin of envy?

It is true that competition drives our economy. It drives all our favorite sports. So what can be wrong with being competitive? Heck, I like to win, too. Being competitive is only wrong when it become an unhealthy obsession.

For example, someone with a healthy sense of competition will train, work, and try their hardest to win at everything they do. Someone with an unhealthy sense of competition will seek to game the system, focus on making others lose, cheat, lie, and steal in order to win. Healthy competition seeks to make itself the best. Unhealthy competition seeks to game and tear down in order to end up on top.

4. How does envy get in the way of our relationships with other people?

The sin of envy builds a wall between us and those we envy. It seeks to convince you that you not only should have what the other person possesses, but that you deserve it. The sin of envy does not care about the person it envies, only the attributes and possessions it seeks. It seeks to dehumanize and belittle the person it envies, and thus belittles our ability to have a relationship with them. How can Bill and Jim ever have a true friendship if all Bill can think about is how Jim’s mansion should be his mansion?

5.   How does envy get in the way of our self-image?

The sin of envy tries to convince you that you are incomplete. It not only dehumanizes your neighbor, it dehumanizes you as well. It convinces you that your life (what you have and who you are) is not good enough, but it can be if you just had what your neighbor had. So it seems the self-image brought upon by envy is self-hatred.

6.   Based on answers 4 and 5, how does envy get in the way of our relationship with God?

John 3:16-17 speaks of how God so loved the world that God sent the Son to die for it so that it might be saved…not judged, but saved. If God loves the world then God loves you. If God loves the world then God’s loves your neighbors. The sin of envy tries to convince you your neighbor has gotten too much share of love and that you have gotten too little. This can distort our faith in God and cause us to disobey what Jesus commanded, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)”

7.   What virtue is best suited to combat our temptation to fall into the deadly sin of envy?

The words of Jesus should be a dead (but risen three days later…haha) giveaway to the virtue necessary to combat envy: Love. It seems almost every Christian wedding has 1 Corinthians 13 as a passage. “Love is patient; love is kind, slow to anger…etc.” This love Paul talks about is the love Jesus showed us on the cross. It is the only pure love we can ever know. That is the love Jesus calls to share with others. His call to love others is a call to see them as worth helping, see them as important, and see them as worth protecting and living for. That love does not care what everyone else has. It only cares about the people themselves.

I want to conclude with this prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for all you have done for me. Help me to not be envious towards my neighbors and friends but rather to be happy for them and encourage them. Cleanse me of anything that breaks Your heart and breaks the hearts of my neighbors. Amen.