...Envy rots the bones. --Proverbs 14:30b
It is not easy to rot bones. Long after the flesh has perished, the bones lay unseen in the dark earth - calcified deposits that will take years, and sometimes centuries, to decompose into ash. This reality makes the image from Proverbs a strong, even startling one. Envy, a perverse form of desire, is so powerful that it can putrefy what is nearly indestructible. It's just a four-letter word, but it is dangerous to the soul because of its double seduction. First, we notice an awareness that someone else has some advantage in life that we don't have, and we begin to feel resentment inside. We start to tell ourselves that it is unfair for them to have it, that they don't deserve it, or that they won't use it appropriately. Then, we begin to desire the advantage or benefit for ourselves, even if it means taking it away from them.
In the purest state of our soul, we are endlessly generous. We have been created to give - without restraint or condition. We are created to care at least as much, if not more, for others than we do for ourselves. In the purest state of our soul, we have no smoldering ember of bitterness when someone experiences some great joy or benefit in life. We readily want to rejoice in their good fortune. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, the very joy we have for them spreads out over our own lives like a full ocean opening itself upon the shore. But without attention, that seed of envy can slither unhindered into our lives, and when it does, we begin to find our soul damaged, our heart fractured, our bones rotting.
Try this the next time you feel envy creeping cunningly into the fabric of your soul. Close your eyes and for a full two minutes thank God for every advantage in life that you have and have had throughout your life. It's a simple exercise, but two minutes of gratitude are to the soul what the coldest, sweetest, strawberry is to the tongue on a hot July afternoon - a gift of delight that captures and captivates the attention and emotions. Fill your soul with gratitude and envy will flee.
O God, keep my bones of generosity strong, so like you, I rejoice when the morning stars sing together and the creation thrills to the beat of its becoming.
These meditations by Renee Miller first appeared at explorefaith.org
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