Never let envy eat you

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THAT story of King Saul being envious of David because, as the crowd said, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands,” (1 Samuel 18,7) clearly tells us the lesson that we all are prone to this danger of envy and jealousy.

This danger usually arises when we are not contented with what we have or with what is promised to us. It arises when we tend to compare ourselves with others in an improper way—that is, not for the glory of God but rather for our own self-interest only.

It’s one of the most insidious spiritual anomalies that we can have in life. It’s that uneasy feeling that others are better than us in some respects. We can even be envious of others who we know are doing evil and yet appear to be having a better time than us. Or it can come as a result of some personal frustrations, defeats and losses while others appear to only have successes and victories.

Many biblical passages refer to it. “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3,16) “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4,2)

Still more: “For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (1 Cor 3,3) “Jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.” (Proverbs 6,34)

Envy is usually accompanied by sadness and sometimes by hatred, anger, bad thoughts and impulses of revenge, fault-finding and bitter zeal. It comes as a result of comparing oneself with others without God in the middle. The standards used are highly subjective and restrictive.

What makes it worse is that it is something internal, usually suffered in private, quite hidden, and therefore hard to be corrected by oneself or by others. To cover it up some more, especially when one suspects that others are already detecting it, one usually uses all kinds of pretension and the many ways of hypocrisy.

A nasty sense of insecurity bogs him. There’s usually a see-sawing attitude of liking and disliking, or the liking is somehow accompanied by a trace of dislike, a pinch of discomfort. One is not totally at peace when envy assails him.

Yes, envy is a very unfortunate thing to happen to anyone because it is a pure waste of time and energy. And because of it, many good opportunities that one can have are often missed. Of course, the worst effect is that one’s soul gets corrupted and can get completely wrapped up in his own miserable self-made world. He suffers alone.

We have to be quick to in slaying this anomaly.  We need to remember that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, however we are placed and situated in life. Not everyone can be bright, talented, successful, etc. Some have to do the menial job, take care of the little things, be at the background.

We should not feel inferior to anyone because we are all children of God, equally loved by him although shown in different ways. Everyone has the same dignity and vocation, though lived and pursued in different ways.

The right attitude to have is to live out what St. Paul once said: “Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Phil 2,3-4)