Gratefulness and generosity are two spiritual disciplines that can free us from the bondage of envy.
Kevin Woo in an article on August 16 2011 of the weblog of Sound Mind Investing tells a simple story in which one act of generosity began to release he and his wife from envy’s grip. Kevin says, “We are still learning and believing God to transform us into more generous givers, trusting His faithfulness. Be encouraged. Generosity is an antidote to envy.”
You can read Kevin’s article on the SMI website (a site I have been a member for a number of years now), AND, Kevin references an article by Tim Challies, which is also a reflection on envy.
Challies discovered the evil of envy in his own heart when he began to begrudge another person blessings that came into their life. I suspect there are others out there who may struggle like Challies and myself in applying Romans 12:15, “rejoice with those who rejoice.” Why is this so hard? Challies suggests the problem is envy in our hearts.
Envy for Challies is “a deeply private but destructive form of covetousness. . . . Envy is evil, competitive and selfish.” He provides some helpful quotes from Os Guinness and C.S. Lewis. For Challies, the cure for envy is contentment.
Here is a link to a previous post I made on Envy after reading Michael Mangis book, Signature Sins. According to Mangis, the antidotes to envy are “contentment, gratititude, joy and satisfaction.”
Here are a few passages from Scripture about envy
- “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” (Proverbs 14:30 ESV)
- “Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” (Eccl 4:4 ESV)
- “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;” (1 Cor 13:4 ESV)
- “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”(1 Peter 2:1 ESV)
Sloth is the failure to attend to our spiritual lives. Acedia is spiritual listlessness or laziness, the antithesis of worship. It is a refusal to respond to our opportunities for growth, service or sacrifice. Antidote: zeal and diligence. Four expressions of sloth:
- Laziness—neglect of our responsibilities. Antidote: discipline, commitment, ambition, willingness
- Indifference—lack of concern about injustice, apathy. Antidote: concern, enthusiasm, interest passion or involvement.
- Cowardice—uses the risk of something painful or unpleasant as an excuse to refuse to do what is necessary. Antidote: courage, boldness, conviction.
- Sadness—morbidity or despair. A sadness that savors and takes pleasure in sadness. Antidote: seeking hope, optimism and joy.
Envy is “constant discontent, suspicion that God is withholding. Greed is primarily about material possessions and envy is about one’s place in the world. Greed wants the good things others have, envy wants to be the only one who has good things.
The antidote for envy: contentment, gratititude, joy and satisfaction.
Three forms of envy:
- Jealousy—a form of envy that guards what one already has. Antidote: liberality, good will, kindness or abundance
- Malice—a form of envy that truly wishes ill for others and delights in observing and contributing to other’s pain. Antidote: peace, kindness or gentleness
- Contempt—heaps scorn on others virtues or abilities. May end up as racism, sexism, or classism. Antidote: love and generosity