So, how does the battle go?
Not the battle with that pesky, intolerable neighbor;
not the battle with a co-worker or supervisor;
not the battle with a stubborn head-strong child;
not the battle over whether the toilet paper should go over or under.
I’m not talking about these outer battles.
I’m concerned about the inner battle.
How does the inner battle go?
…the inner battle we must all fight against envy.
Cain lost the battle. His passions took over.
He became consumed by envy.
His brother received favor from God and he did not.
It wasn’t fair.
His envy fed into anger and aggression and hatred.
These became so intense that whatever conscience Cain had
was unable to stem the tide, wasn’t able to restrain his growing resentment.
Envy is an emotional pain.
It may not always lead to murder, but it most always leads to misery.
Sometimes envy is depicted as an animal that spews poison out of its mouth.
It has also been depicted as a wolf.
(Think for a moment: wolves hunt in packs. By their numbers they take down their prey.
One of the sins arising out of envy is gossip. Gossip is a ‘pack’ activity.)
Envy is an emotion that is aroused when we encounter someone who has something we do not:
money, position, looks, attention, privilege, respect, reputation.
The feeling affects our mind; it leads to certain thoughts.
We take note of the differences between ourselves and the person we envy.
We start planning, scheming, considering the benefits of our taking action.
We know what to do to put the other in his/her place.
We know what to do to rectify the unfairness and injustice.
We respond through the spoken word: we insult, slander, use our words to cause harm.
We respond through physical act: we steal, we set the other up to fail,
we tempt the other to choose something immoral.
We respond through omission….by not doing something we could
in order to cause harm.
Envy is a vice, a flawed character trait. It is an attitude, a disposition, a habit.
It leads to sin; it leads us to engage in specific acts that are contrary to God’s ways.
The first line of defense against envy is….a good, well-formed conscience.
Other preemptive protective measures against envy include:
the cultivation of our moral sensitivities;
the active pursuit of wisdom and virtue and honest self-awareness;
reasonable restraint with regards to our passions and appetites;
the promotion of self-control as a counteraction towards intemperance and excessive indulgence;
to appreciate and be satisfied with what we have
as comparted to being overly occupied with what we don’t have.
Our prayer today: “O Lord, protect me from my self-seeking…be it power, honor, advantage, conceit, or supposed privileges or rights. Give me the Spirit of Your Son, Jesus Christ….a spirit of contentment, humility, appreciation and acceptance of Your will. Amen!”