1 Peter 2:1-3
Of the “deadly sins,” envy is the one custom-fitted to a person’s particular ego and insecurity. It begins quietly in a personal disappointment. Left unchecked, it leads to broken relationships. It wears you down before leaving you with no one to blame but yourself. Shame.
It’s “the most odious, and also the most comical, of vices,” says C.S. Lewis’ fictional demon Screwtape, who gleefully adds, “those who were aware of feeling it felt it with shame” (Screwtape Proposes a Toast, 1952).
Rid yourselves, therefore, of…envy, the Scripture says. But how?! Doesn’t God know I didn’t get the part, was passed over for promotion, got cancer, or had to care for someone who did? Doesn’t God know how deeply I desire to have a child, a relationship, to be accepted? “Rid yourself of envy,” it says, but I’d rather be rid of the Joneses across the street who seem always to have an abundance of good going on. Somewhere, Screwtape is enjoying this.
An old ad campaign asks, “Got milk?” James recommends pure, spiritual milk, and advises we seek it like newborn infants (v. 2). That’s how to rid yourself of envy, we’re told. Pure spiritual milk isn’t watered down. It contains no contaminants of opinion, self-help memes, or guilt. No additives of churchy language, doctrine, or theology. Pure spiritual milk is 100% Gratitude. O, taste and see that the Lord is good!
When we return to the basics, drinking in the goodness and sustaining love of God, absorbing the perfect gift that is life itself, we are like a child at a mother’s breast. We’re not looking around at what others have or don’t have. Not comparing or complaining.
This, James says, is how to diffuse and rid yourselves of sinful envy. Focus on these things. Got milk?
We cannot fathom the depths of God’s love for us. But when is the last time we tried?
God, help me extend to others today the blessings you’ve given me. Amen.