Home > John's Blogs, Temptation & Sin, Uncategorized > Seven Capital Vices, Part 2: Envy

Seven Capital Vices, Part 2: Envy

This post continues looking at Rebecca Konynkyk DeYoung’s book Glittering Vices, which is a look at what we commonly call the “7 deadly sins” and she calls the “7 capital vices.”  Her first vice is Envy, and we will see both how it affects us and DeYoung’s suggestion for remedying it.  Perhaps you think it’s the same as covetousness or jealousy.  I thought so – but it’s not.

Envy is what occurs when we want something that someone has and we lack.  However, it’s a little worse than that.  DeYoung says,

The envious and the covetous are “have-nots.”  If they were greedy, they would want something like what the other person has, or perhaps want more of it than another.  If they were greedy, they could say, “I want that too.”  but the envious and the covetous don’t want to “have one too.”  they want the very the the rival has – “I want that one, the one she has.”  While the covetous person’s desire are focused on having an object, however, the envier is at leas as concerned that her rival not have it.  The covetous person delights in acquiring the thing itself, while the envier delights in the way the redistribution of goods affects her and her rival’s respective positions.

She concludes by noting that an envier can be satisfied when the rival loses the thing that the envier wants – even if the envier does not obtain it!

When we envy, we are comparing what we have with what other have and coming up short.  It doesn’t matter what gifts God has given us, we want what others have – and to make sure they don’t have it.  As such, DeYoung says “Envy directly undercuts love of our neighbor.”  Exactly right.  Moreover, the envier must assume that God favors the other person more.  Thus, envy undercuts love for God in the same way.

Because of that, even if the envier gets what they want, and their rival loses the very same thing, the envier loses as well because of the damage done to the relationship with God and others.  To envy is to lose even if we win.

DeYoung suggests overcoming envy by actively participating in things that don’t have winners and losers.  As we do that, we will see that good things can be shared without others losing, and we will learn about how the world works.  She also suggests participating in acts of love for others, “countering the malicious inclinations of the envious.”  Any other suggestions?

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  1. April 4, 2010 at 6:49 am

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