I'm dividing the sixth deadly sin into two posts. This first half is an attempt to explain envy in principle, the following post will attmpt to be more practical and specific concerning this sin. Envy is an intense form of jealousy that craves what another has, and would even seek to take it from him. It is a root sin that gives bith to hatred, bitterness, gossip, and even murder in the pursuit of satisfying selfish desire. Jesus himself was "handed over" by the chief preists because of their envy of him. Was it an envy of his power? His closeness to the Father? Was it envy of his character? Is it possible that Jesus was envied by wicked men for his righteousness, and that led to his murder? Believe it. Envy is what moves us. And it doesn't always look like stereotypical wickedness. It often is why we get up and go to work. Envy leads many of the "upwardly mobile" to continually uproot family from community and church in order to get the better deal, the bigger house, to have more, because in the end what matters most is having it as good, or better than, the next guy. Money does not make the world go around. Envy does. Money is simply the grease that allows envy move so easily.
Envy reveals a heart that is all about self. It neither seeks God's glory, nor our neighbor's good before it pursues the treasures of earth. And this is really the heart of envy - it is an opposite of love. Love seeks another's good, and sacrifices self for another. Love does not envy. It cannot, because envy seeks my good at the expense of another.
I have noticed when we talk about envy people often dismiss it as mere jealousy, or if they catch a glimpse of what envy really is, just how dangerous and bitter such an affection is, they claim it is not a part of their lives. "I may wish I had something another has (nicer car, home, kids, spouse, spirituality), but I do not wish to take it from them," we reason. But let's ask it this way. Would you be happier if "it" was yours rather than theirs? Do you rejoice over what they have, or are you more focused on how much you wish you had it yourself?