Hardly anyone wants to admit to being envious. While we may have all felt a tinge of it, we also felt it was something we needed to hide. Why? Because envy makes us feel insecure about ourselves. It affects our self-esteem and our sense of identity.
When we are envious of someone, we feel a certain desire for something somebody else has, something we do not possess.
It reminds us that someone is better or richer or more famous. It can even creep in as a competition on virtue, measuring our holiness as compared with someone else. And when we fail to measure up, what happens then? Envy comes in and infects our hearts. If we allow it to linger, it becomes a poison that consumes us from within.
What Is the Root of Envy?
Some people propose that our feelings of envy could have come from our sense of justice or fairness. Whenever we see someone getting more than they deserve or possessing more than we have, we feel that something is unfair. We are not being given our share. Someone else is benefiting from a blessing that could have been ours.
While this may have some truth in it, the true source of envy could be something more sinister. Because it can hide behind the guise of justice and fairness. In the name of fairness, it seeks to possess what does not belong to it. It hides its emptiness beneath a mask that claims itself to be a victim of an unjust condition.
The Greater Sin That Hides Behind Envy
The deeper darkness behind envy is pride.
Pride is not the same as self-confidence or a healthy sense of self-worth. Pride is that inner desire that wants us to be better than someone else.
Pride then can be easily injured. When it is threatened enough, it can convince us that we are the ones wronged when we’re the ones who are harboring ill feelings in our hearts.
Pride does not say that everyone must get what they deserve. Pride says that you must have more than what everyone else has.
Pride can blind our eyes and make us believe in lies. It buries itself so deeply that we often have a hard time knowing it is there.
But there is one indication that could help us become aware that pride is there. It’s when we start to lose our peace of mind.
“Soundness of heart is the life of the flesh: but envy is the rottenness of the bones.”
– Proverbs 14:30 (DRA)
Pride keeps us from having peace. It keeps us looking toward something we don’t have. In the process, it takes our eyes away from the things we do have and should be grateful for.
The Role of Humility
If we want to overcome the root of envy we must overcome pride itself. And how do we overcome pride? We pray for the virtue of humility.
“Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal.” – Mother Teresa
“When pride comes, disgrace comes;
but with the humble is wisdom.”
– Proverbs 11 (NABRE)
Jocelyn Soriano is the author of To Love an Invisible God, Defending My Catholic Faith and Mend My Broken Heart.