1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.

2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.

3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.

5 They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills....

20 As a dream when one awakes,
so when you arise, O Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.

21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,

22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.

24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

- Psalm 73

Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all. Sloth may not seem much fun, nor anger either, but giving way to deep laziness has its pleasures and anger entails a release that is not without its small delights. In recompense, envy may be the subtlest - perhaps I should say the most insidious - of the seven deadly sins. Surely it is one that people are least likely to want to own up to, for to do so is to admit that one is probably ungenerous, mean, small hearted... - Joseph Epstein, Envy: The Seven Deadly Sins

I've reworked my budget recently and found, to my chagrin, that I'm not quite where I thought I was. I'll be paying for college a little longer than I had thought when I had last reviewed the plan. No worries, I've got a good job, I live comfortably, and I really have little experience of want...but then there's still that nagging feeling.

I could blame it on a lot of things. I live in a pretty nice neighborhood in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. I'm surrounded by million dollar condos, cars nearing the six-figures, and manifest money everywhere you look. Tiffany for the ladies and Tags for the guys. I see pets in the park that probably cost more than my rent payment.

And many times I pride myself on the fact that I don't actually want these things. No, if I had that kind of money, I'd still drive a truck and still wouldn't wear a watch. Not me, I say. If I just had that much, I'd...but then that's where it all starts. With the "If I just had...".

And even if my justifications were true...well that's just the envy disguising itself. Envy does that. Its the most embarrassing sin we could be convicted of, after all - nobody wants to be convicted of envy. Anger...sure, I lost my temper, happens to the best of us. Pride, eh, we all face it sooner or later. Even deceit - humiliating, sure, but everyone has to bend the truth a little sooner or later, right? Not so with envy. The best of us are never prey to that, right? That's the last thing you want people to know about you.

The thing about envy is that while you're so busy wanting someone else's life, you kill your ability to enjoy your own. And envy certainly can't blame one's own self for the shortcomings, so as you begin to experience a deficit of joy in your own life, the very next thing to go is your ability to rejoice in the blessings that others have - you begin to resent them simply for having when you don't. As in verse 21, you're not only grieved that you don't have, but bitter that others do (it disguises itself as grief, but the bitterness is there, beneath the surface).

This is where I deal with envy - when it comes to getting out of debt. I find the temptation for that self-pity when I look at those who aren't still paying for their education, those who don't have that burden. It sneaks in when I focus on the lives of others and not on the wonderfulness of my own. Money, of course, is not the only place where envy can flourish, but its certainly a clear medium for my use as an example.

And so I've diagnosed. I haven't cured. This begins somewhere in the realm of vs. 28 - "But for me, it is good to be near God...". To begin to be satisfied with his cosmic payment of my eternal debt, to be near to Him and experience the love that He has for me for all time, not just in the material now.

I'm only just beginning to work this part out in my life.

1 comment:

Tom Grey said...

Nice start on Envy.

In the USA, envy is sort of like admiration -- with the envious wanting to copy, or become better, or get more, than the envied.
When an American farmer finds out his neighbor has a prize cow, he dreams of getting a better cow.

In Europe, and thru history, envy is much worse. When a Slavic farmer finds out his neighbor has a prize cow, he dreams that the cow dies.

Equality thru destruction -- seen wherever "tax the rich" is sold in politics. (I live in Slovakia)