Envy is listed among the deadly sins for a good reason. As St. Cyprian tells us, envy just keeps gnawing at us unless we get rid of it. There will always be people who have more than we have; we need to learn to rejoice with them rather than envy them. The way we do that is by turning to Christ.
What a gnawing worm of the soul it is—to envy someone for his virtue or for his happiness; to make others’ good into our own evil; to be tortured by the prosperity of the famous. To the envious, no food brings joy, no drink is cheerful. They are always sighing, groaning, and weeping. And since the envious never set their envy aside, the heart possessed by envy is ripped apart day and night without a pause.
Other evils have their limits. Whatever wrong is done, it ends when the crime is finished. Adultery ends when the act is done. Murder is finished when the homicide is committed. Once the fraud is finished, the cheater is through. But envy has no limit. It goes on and on, a sin without end. The more successful the person we envy is, the hotter the fire of envy burns in us.
Throw away all that malice that held you captive, and be reformed to the way of eternal life, walking in the path of salvation. Rip the thorns and thistles out of your heart, so that the seed the Lord has sown may grow into a rich crop, and the divine and spiritual field will abound with a plentiful harvest. Throw out the poison of gall and the disease of strife. Purge your mind of the venomous malice of the serpent. Be softened by the sweetness of Christ.
–St. Cyprian, Treatise 7, chapters 7, 17
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Are there any people I think have much more than they deserve—in money, talent, or anything else?
What am I doing to accept what God has given those people?
Father, you have given me everything I need, even though I am unworthy of your love. Mercifully cleanse me from the sin of envy, and let me use your many gifts to bring glory to your name.
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