The Sin of Envy

The Sin of Envy

Dr. Jim Denison

Webster defines “envy” as “(1) a feeling of discontent and ill will because of another’s advantages, possessions, etc; resentful dislike of another who has something that one desires (2) desire for some advantage, quality, etc. that another has.” Envy is the byproduct of greed. It is wanting what someone has enough to resent them for having it.

Why does our culture value envy? Because envy promotes materialistic greed. If I envy what you own, I’ll try to buy it. And we live in a world which measures success by possessions. And because envy promotes self-reliant achievement. If I envy what you have done, I’ll try to do it. And we live in a world which measures success by performance.

Envy is one of the devil’s most effective weapons. No matter who we are. Years ago I came across this painfully relevant story: Once there was a monk who lived in a cave in the wilderness. He had a great reputation for holiness. His reputation reached Hell itself, whereupon the devil took three of his key demons with him to tempt the monk out of his sanctity. When they reached the wilderness, they found the monk sitting at the mouth of the cave with a serene look on his face. The first demon walked up to the monk and planted in his mind the temptation of great power, with visions of kingdoms and their glory. But the face of the monk remained serene.