Envy the green-eyed monster, the root of so many of our conflicts, one of the seven deadly sins. I want to speak of envy today, because I grew up in this very secular environment where envy was perceived as non-existent, where observing envy in the world was a worse “sin” then the envy itself. If you experience envy from others it is your fault because privilege, pride, and thinking too highly of yourself.
I can’t begin to tell you how damaging this was, how confused it left me, how I stumbled around in the dark completely baffled for years. Nothing made any sense, there was this giant elephant in the room I was taught not to see, not to speak of. I remember being about 10 and a girl said, “I hate your shoes,” and so I immediately blamed my shoes, I blamed myself for wearing shoes that inspire hatred, and I blamed myself for some imaginary pride I must have been harboring over my shoes that obviously caused this girl to feel hatred. Envy didn’t exist in my world at all, so if someone displayed it, I was obviously defective in some way.
Unfortunately when I entered the Christian world, I suffered from this same false teaching. I remember being told the tale of Joseph and his many splendered coat and it went something like this. Joseph was shown a bunch of unfair favoritism by his Father and proudly marched about in a fancy coat of many color for the express purpose of making others feel bad. He constantly tattled on his brothers and lorded his superior status over them. Than one day he foolishly bragged about his prophetic dreams and his brothers quite rightly threw him into a pit and sold him into slavery. One brother showed an excessive amount of virtue by convincing the others not to just kill him outright. Even after Joseph was sold into slavery he persisted in his foolish behavior by flirting excessively with His master’s wife, who quite rightly threw him in jail. Joseph was “well-built and handsome,” and proudly once again wearing a cloak, proving he had learned absolutely nothing about his own propensity to lead others into sin.
I kid you not, I was taught exactly that and have since heard some version of that tale several times over the years. This is one reason why it is so important to free your mind, get yourself into The Word, and let the Holy Spirit read it to you. It wasn’t until some years later that I was brave enough to read about Joseph on my own. When I did, it was a powerful revelation, one that totally collapsed my psyche. I had spent much of my life being mislead and deceived. Not only was Joseph a good guy, he was totally innocent and actually being used by God. Joseph was victorious over the abuse he had suffered at the hands of others, and the trials and tribulations he had faced were often due to other people’s envy. His only “crime” was actually his obedience to God.
Metanoia, the changing of one’s mind. God totally collapsed my psyche, because I was able to look back on my life and all the puzzle pieces fell into place. Where there had once been confusion and chaos, there was suddenly order. Things began to make sense and I could look back and see how envy had popped its head into situations and I, being completely blind to it, could not protect myself. You cannot confront what you cannot see.
In a healthy situation, envy is simply a fact of life, one can shine some light on it, one can joke about it, one can confront it and reduce its power. If I had been equipped so long ago, that girl who hated my shoes would have washed over me like water on a duck’s back and I could have simply said, ah yes, shoe envy, the coveting of the shoes. Cute. Human. Potentially sinful. No big deal. That’s not what happened however, instead that wound festered and rather than metanoia, I descended into paranoia, shoe paranoia, shoe shame. The shame of the shoes. Shoe apologetics.
I jest a bit here because shoe harm is one of the more light-hearted scars to have sprung forth from this deception, this bit of wrong thinking, this teaching that sent me down the path of life so blind to some obvious truths.
Get into The Word and let the Holy Spirit read it to you. He will teach you the most amazing things, and if you are truly blessed, He will totally transform your way of thinking.