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Wednesday June 6 – Envy defined

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. – Proverbs 14:30

Scripture reading: Proverbs 14

As sinful and ruinous as pride is, envy comes along as a worthy competitor on the scales of deadly sins. In the Faerie Queene, envy is depicted as a man with cankered teeth, chewing on a venomous toad, poison running down his jaws. Elsewhere it is compared to an internal gnawing worm, rust of the heart, the malignant shriek of the shriveled soul. Envy roars when someone gets better grades than I do, has more friends, is more likeable, preaches to more congregants, gets the promotion I think I deserved, is better looking, has nicer parents, is more popular, intelligent, respected, successful. Envy is so uniquely depressing, cold and suicidal.

In an ancient Jewish tale, an angel visits a shopkeeper known for envying his rival. The angel offers to fulfill one wish, but warns him that his competitor will receive twice as much of whatever he asks for. Momentarily puzzling over this challenging opportunity, the shopkeeper arrives at his request: he asks to be made blind in one eye.

“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16). Before Cain rose up to murder his brother on that dark day, envy was rotting his bones and his heart. Disorder had invaded paradise. Nothing but grief is gained through envy and all that trails behind her: discontentment and ingratitude.

Suggestions for prayer

“I can scarce open my eyes, but I envy those above me or despise those below…Am I inferior? How much I grudge others’ pre-eminence! Thou knowest that…my greatest snare is myself.” – The Valley of Vision: Self-deprecation

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mark Stewart serves the Burlington URC in Burlington, WA.

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