Some thoughts on envy from the book Not the Way It’s Supposed To Be by Cornelius Plantinga:
Envy is a nastier sin than mere covetousness. What an envier wants is not, first of all, what another has; what an envier wants is for another not to have it. (example: an 18 year old lobbying against a liberal curfew for his 16 year old brother even though the 18 year old can gain nothing positive by winning the campaign…)
To covet is to want somebody else’s good so strongly that one is tempted to steal it. To envy is to resent somebody else’s good so much that one is tempted to destroy it. The coveter has empty hands and wants to fill them with somebody else’s goods. The envier has empty hands and therefore wants to empty the hands of the envied… What the envier really wants is to spoil something– or someone… Cain no longer wanted Abel’s blessing, he wanted Abel’s death.
Envy, like the pride that spawns it, is inevitably comparative… Thus if he gets an A on an examination in school he’d like to be the only one… Having to share first place makes him feel like a loser.
Being envied is, at least for a person of character, no delight either… For them, being envied is an awkward sorrow. To be envied is to have something venomous aimed at you for which it’s surprisingly hard to find the right anti-venom. If you do well, you will be resented. If you ignore the envier, you nick his pride. If you try to be nice to the envier, you may be thought patronizing…
Today we are thinking about envy, resentment, and the alchemy of God. I am thankful for this community and the way we wrestle with these things.