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Posts Tagged ‘envy’

This one is right up there with “be holy!” Peter does not mince words. At least in a couple of other translations, rid yourself of such and such is written as “lay aside” or “be done with,” but in any case, this one is on me.


I Peter 2:1-2a
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk . . .

Like any plan to change, it’s important to understand the malady. Drunks can’t stop drinking until they know it’s a problem and so forth. I have to look with honesty, are these corrupting attributes part of my life?

Malice is pretty harsh stuff: a spiteful, intentional desire to do someone harm. The gentrified version of this would be deliberate “payback.” Another version of malice might be keeping a simple list of wrongdoings and justifying some other action because of that list. He owes me, as it were. So, I don’t hate anyone and I’m not by nature one who seeks to do harm, but I have kept a few lists hidden in my heart.

Holy Spirit, I give you permission to clean out those lists: reboot my system.

Deceit is a little less malicious but more roundabout in its application. It’s a lie, even a white lie, told on purpose to misrepresent a situation. It can be an exaggeration or a minimization. In any case, it’s a type of hiding. I justify this behavior by saying the truth will just cause more trouble. My kids have pretty much given me the same lame excuse. This needs to stop.

Holy Spirit, I give you permission to open the vault of my subterfuges. Just, please, don’t let ’em out all at once.

Hypocrisy is a form of acting. I really don’t want to admit publicly that I’m a hypocrite, who does? But I am a good actress and that ability crosses over into daily life, I know it does, without even thinking about it. I want people to like me. But I have made this mistake in relationships too often, trying to be someone I am not because I don’t want to rock the boat.

Holy Spirit, keep me authentic through transparency of heart.

Envy is rooted in American culture and we need some intense weeding here. It came to us under the guise of the American Dream but instead has fueled advertising into making us all want what we do not have. Discontentment with what is has become the norm as though it’s the foundation to ambition. I’ve gotten sucked in more than once: it’s the basic reason for my debt.

Holy Spirit, teach me to be content without sacrificing excellence.

Slander is my worst enemy and my best friend. It’s just a stronger word for gossip. It’s those times I put down someone else to make myself feel better. It’s those times I complain about someone else to gather a personal posse to be on my side. It’s those things I’ve said about other people that would be devastating if they were standing behind me. Oh yeah.

Holy Spirit, hold my tongue, keep me mindful of my words.

Peter says the solution to all of this is craving [thirsting, desiring eagerly] the pure “milk of the Holy Spirit.” This picture is the child at a women’s breast, where only the one can satisfy, with no intermediaries.

Do I crave the presence and intervention of the Holy Spirit? Do I crave the Christ, appropriating daily what was given to me by the sacrifice of the God-Man? Do I eat fruit instead of ice cream?

I am still free to choose.

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I Corinthians 13:4b-6
. . . It [love] does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

If love is not these things, perhaps it’s a good idea for me to consider the antonyms. I can’t really “do” or “practice” a “NOT.” So I looked them up.

The opposite of the verb envy is to be confident or contented, to be generous and giving. Do I reflect love in this way? Is my love toward others unwavering and confident. Am I content with the love I have as well as the love I can give. Interesting though, these are actually “states of being.” I cannot practice contentment and confidence, not really. I can turn a corner and choose. And generosity comes from within. Generous giving comes from confidence and contentment. So, perhaps, “not envying” what others have is indeed the first step toward contentment.

The opposite of boasting is to be modest, quiet, and deprecating (playing down what one has). It’s not that I don’t have the “stuff” or the relationships or the love or the ability, it’s that I don’t brag about what I have. This brings to mind the “ugly American” who travels with a chip on his/her shoulder, expecting service up to certain standards. It’s an “I deserve” attitude. All of those cliches like “keeping up with the Joneses” are counter to the basics of not boasting. Our of pride in the accomplishments of our children, we often provide litany after litany of their successes, their grades, their jobs, their scores.

The opposite of rudeness is kindness, politeness, and respect. This I can practice, if I choose to do so. The more kindness I show, the more politeness, the more respect, the less rude I will seem. Politeness has gone out of favor. Our children do not recognize politeness as necessarily important. But do we realize that love requires this of us? If I love my children, I should also be kind, polite and respect them for who they are in each stage of life. It is my job to model that.

The opposite of self-seeking is similar to the opposite of envy — it’s giving, benevolent, and caring; moral and ethical. This is the essence of mindfulness of “other.” These are the traits of the humble. Really, it reminds of stepping out of costume, the selfish costume, and showing the tender center within. It’s casting off the habit of selfishness.

The opposite of anger is joy, pleasantness, calm and being soothing. I cannot practice joy, it’s a result, but I can be pleasant instead of not, I can look for my inner calm and bring it to the surface, I can be soothing to the one who is hurting. I cannot be angry if I am doing any of these other things. There is no longer room for anger.

The opposite of “not keeping a record of wrongs” must be forgetfulness, choosing to “not recall” or dismiss the offense. And of course, forgiveness. They go hand in hand.

The last antonym for “not delighting in evil” is provided for us and is a surprise: rejoicing in truth. I would have thought it would be delighting in “good,” but instead, Paul chooses truth as the powerhouse to overcome evil. I can indeed practice truth and with it, I will be able to walk away from evil and lies.

The opposite of pride is humility. And each one of these opposites is embraced in this one word. Oh Lord, I am so far. Give me courage to embrace and exercise those aspects of love that will help me evolve truth in humility.

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Acts 5:17
Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.

There’s nothing like momentum or success to bring out jealousy. If only I could say I know this by observation and persecution. Instead, I know jealousy personally–shameful, but true.

Jealousy starts out with envy. It starts out rather innocently perhaps, “oh look what they bought, have, can do” and “gee, I wish I could afford that, get that or do what they can do.” There is a longing that settles in, depending on the amount of energy given to it. And out of the longing, an obsession with others’ gains, and eventually, resentment finds a foothold and builds exponentially.

It’s bad enough that envy and jealousy are fed on a personal level: house, car, job, friends, wealth, clothes, youth, body, athletic abilities, artistic abilities, mastery, etc. But it becomes really sordid when it’s on an organization level, or worse, on a national or international level.

There are church pastors and church goers who become envious of other churches, either their attendance, their notoriety, their leadership, or even their music. There is something dreadfully wrong with this picture.

Isn’t that just the foot being envious of the hand… of course the hand can do more… it was designed that way. But where is the commitment to what the foot can do?

And so, the foot keeps dragging on the hand: “not so fast,” “that’s not how we’ve done it in the past,” “we can’t do it that way,” “we’ve never seen that before,” “who gave you the authority to do all that ‘hand’ stuff?” Sometimes, the “foot” worries that all that attention to the “hand” will suck up all the resources.

But is that how God works? Nope.

The more we give, the more we receive. We cannot outgive God… that goes for money, energy, ideas, activity, healing, blessings and even, success.

Today I ask forgiveness for my jealous and envious heart. Today, I am going to be the best foot I can be. Today, I will speak blessings to the momentum of others. Today, I stop holding others back. Today, I set the captive free. Today I become a a true cheerleader for others.

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