Lent 1: Seven Deadly Sins (Jeff Cook)

Jeff Cook, author of Seven: The Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes , has offered some brief meditations for us to ponder during Lent this year.

Envy

During Lent, we will meditate together on the Seven Deadly Sins and use this list as an aid in confession as we prepare ourselves for Holy Week, Good Friday and the Easter announcement of resurrection.

The Deadly Sins are soul-poisons and envy is one of the most lethal. Envy cares nothing for my good, my heart, my future, or even my pleasure—for envy offers me nothing but pain. Envy is masochistic. Envy suggests I look at others—consider their free time, their pay check, their successes, their lovers—and envy says, “The life you have just isn’t good enough.” This may seem a petty step, but it’s lethal. Envy has the toxic ability to distract my heart and mind from the daily bread God puts into my hand each morning, focusing me instead on the gifts, status, talents, and joys he gives to others. This is not only a rejection of the good that God has given to me; this is a desire to become someone I am not, was never made to be, and will not enjoy becoming if my jealousy succeeds.

Envy invites me to put on glasses that see the world as though God has not given me everything I need to be fully drenched in his redeeming, soul-restoring, son- and daughter-creating, joy-producing, exquisitely wonderful love. Envy is a deadly sin because it inspires us to say to God, “The life you’ve given me is simply subpar. I need a new set of widgets. I need to be worry-free. I need to have a different life with different perks.”

As such, envy proves to be the sin of the insecure and beggarly. In the Scriptures, envy is pictured as both the sin of those grumbling against God and of those who drive themselves into exile—away from God and away from others. Neither is a good condition.

To those of us who struggle with envy let us be reminded of what the father in Jesus’ story said to an envious older brother who had exiled himself from the party at hand: “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Take a moment to let the Spirit expose envy in your life, so you may repent and be free.

(Excerpt from Seven: the Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes by Jeff Cook)

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  • rjs

    Nice Jeff. Thanks.

    Envy works in many ways and sometimes comes in the guise of a virtue. We need to be aware.

  • Scot McKnight

    Jeff (and rjs),

    Envy is often/sometimes manifested in ambition, and ambition is more or less a good character trait in our culture.

    So a good reminder.

  • Great!1

    So I just shared this on Facebook, and reTweeted 😀

  • Craig Henderson

    I used Jeff Cook’s book as a resource for a sermon series on the Seven Deadly Sins last year. Have to say that I genuinely appreciate Jeff’s honesty in his personal dealings with each of the seven. A huge help.

  • One of my favorite descriptions of the role of Envy in the modern world is in C.S. Lewis addendum to “Screwtape Letters” called “Screwtape proposes a toast”.

  • Humbling. I often find my attitude to be described by these words.

  • rjs

    Scot (#2),

    I couldn’t quickly find the word I wanted before leaving to take my son to school – but ambition nails it. Exactly.

  • T

    Really enjoyed this book. This post makes me want to go back and re-read it. It provided a wonderful contrast between life in the kingdom of God and in the kingdom of darkness. Great content; very enjoyable writing.

  • Jeremy

    Excellent reflection. The reframing away from the obvious “I want what you have” is really useful. I find envy sneaking in all the time.:\

  • DRT

    Success is not the lack of failure, but the lack of envy. That is counterintuitive in our ambition laden culture.

  • This was really helpful!!

  • Painfully good.