Respectable Sins: Envy, Jealousy, & Related Sins

Envy…yes, I know a little about envy.  And it is often subtle and hard to discern in our own hearts.  I struggled with envy during my first year in seminary.  In particular, I envied my classmates who had seemingly better circumstances than we did – especially my friends who did not have to work and seemed to have extra time to study or to read or play.  I did not expect to feel this way, but a resentment built up in my heart.  What was interesting during this first year, is that I worked for a wealthy family as their errand boy.  They had all the things you could want (including an elevator in their house – if you like that sort of thing), but I didn’t envy them.  I didn’t want their life, their house, or their stuff.  I wanted what my classmates had or what I thought they had.  In this way, I understand what Jerry Bridges says in chapter 18 of Respectable Sins:  “First, we tend to envy those with whom we most closely identify.  Second, we tend to envy in them the areas we value most” (149).

Bridges goes on to touch on the related sins of jealousy (“Sinful jealousy occurs…when we are afraid someone is going to become equal to or even superior to us.”), competitiveness, and controlling.  And as usual Bridges would have us to first look to the sovereignty of God and recognize His sovereign control over all matters.  This is what eventually helped me in seminary – I had to learn that the Lord had me where he wanted me and the He had others plans and ways of dealing with other students.  In recognizing the Lord’s sovereignty, I was also led to praise for God for all of the many blessings that He had bestowed upon us.  Envy and jealousy are shortsighted, to say the least, for they turn our eyes away from the Giver of all good gifts toward the temporal and the transitory.  “…we should realize that if we spend emotional energy on envy or jealousy, we lose sight of what God might do uniquely in our lives” (153).  Bridges would also point us to our oneness in Christ (if we are tempted to envy or be jealous of fellow believers).

Introduction & Schedule for blogging on Respectable Sins

Reflections on Chapters 1 & 2

Reflections on Chapters 3 & 4

Reflections on Chapters 5 & 6

Reflections on Chapters 7 & 8

Reflections on Chapters 9 & 10

Reflections on Chapters 11 & 12

Reflections on Chapters 13 & 14

Reflection on Chapter 15 & 16

Reflection on Chapter 17

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One response to this post.

  1. Adam, we’re having a farewell party for Jerry Bridges over at our blog.

    Reply

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