Overcoming Envy in the Holidays

Can we be joyful and envious at the same time? The holiday season hopes to bring joy, but we can also find ourselves pained with envy, not wanting others to be blessed in the ways God has blessed them. In this week’s episode, Jeff gives us several ways to overcome envy and celebrate the freedom that Christ came for us to have.

Snippet From the Show
Replace the envious thoughts in your head by praying for that person in your head.

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“We grieve over a man’s good, in so far as his good surpasses ours; …it is always sinful.” Summa II-II,36,2

Where did envy come from?

“Thus they reasoned, but they have led astray, for their wickedness blinded them …”

“… and they did not know the secret purposes of God, nor hope for the wages of holiness, nor discern the prize for blameless souls; …”

“… for God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity …”

“… but through the devil’s envy, death entered the world and those who belong to his party experience it.” Wisdom 2: 21-24

We know the devil’s resume:

” … idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, …”

“… envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness …” Galatians 5:20-22

“Envy is the tax which all distinction must pay.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, and malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malignity…” Romans 1:29

Physical Health

“A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30

You can’t be envious and happy at the same time. This is impossible.

Socrates once said, “The envious person grows lean with the fatness of their neighbor.” This is not a diet you want to be on.

What’s the Solution?

The Lord’s response to the workers in the vineyard when others were blessed was, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (See Matthew 20:15)

We must learn to be content with what God has given us. Paul did just that:

“Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.”

“I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.”

“I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:11-13

Again, Paul to Timothy:
“There is great gain in godliness with contentment; …”

“… for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world;”

“but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Ways to Battle Envy

1. Recognize it in your life. It is sin and must be uprooted. Once you identify it, go to confession. Develop a plan to build a good attitude.

2. Walk in love. As it says in 1 Corinthians 13,”Love does not envy.” Love seeks out the eternal good for others and rejoices with them. Focus on the eternal good of other people.

3. Change Your Focus. Jesus pointed those who struggled with envy in a different direction, a new focal point. To those who could be envious of the mercy he extended to lost sheep, Jesus points to heavenly joy. (See Luke 15:7)

To those who could be envious of wealth, he warned, “lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (See Matthew 6:19–20)

St. Peter did something similar:
“So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander.” 1 Peter 2:1
“Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2

Feed on the pure milk of God’s Word rather than the poison of the devil’s envy energy drink. Be nurtured instead of depleted.

4. Love Excellence: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8

5. Don’t take the Bait: Learn to love excellence for its own sake. When St. Paul’s friends were drawing his attention to the shortcomings of rival preachers, he said, “but what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice”. Philippians 1:18

When others are baiting him, he doesn’t take it.

Replace the thoughts in your head by praying for them in your head. “God bless them” over and over until you’re changed!

6. The Habitude of Gratitude fights envy. Learn to walk in thankfulness and gratitude for all that God has given you. Don’t focus on what others have, be thankful for what you have. Come up with five things a day and give thanks.

7. Rejoice in the merits of others. Paul said in Romans 12:15 to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Don’t reverse it.

“Would you like to see God glorified by you? Then rejoice in your brother’s progress, and you will immediately give glory to God. Because his servant could conquer envy by rejoicing in the merits of others, God will be praised.” CCC 2540

8. Express Admiration. Learn to admire the good things in others’ lives. Incorporate them into your prayers. This is exercising goodwill.

9. Walk in humility. Envy often comes from pride.

“Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity; the baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility.” CCC 2540    

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Meet Your Host: Jeff Cavins

Jeff Cavins is passionate about helping people understand Scripture and become disciples of Jesus Christ. Though he was born Catholic, Jeff went to Bible school and served as a protestant minister for twelve years before reverting to the Catholic Faith. Jeff then received his MA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Since then, he has become a leading Catholic evangelist and author.

Jeff created The Bible Timeline learning system, which revolutionized Catholic Bible Study for millions of Catholics. Since its introduction, Jeff has developed The Great Adventure series of Bible studies to help people better understand Sacred Scripture and its meaning for their lives. 

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