According to the tenth commandment, "Thou shalt not covet(to covet -to long for or desire something belonging to another)
thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife,
nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is
thy neighbour's" Exodus 20:17
"The sickness of envy is one of the soul's worst illnesses. It does
great damage to the envious person's soul, as well as causing
serious distress to others. Someone in the grip of envy does not
consider friends, relatives or benefactors. Unhappiness is the
distinguishing characteristic of the envious person...Usually the
envious man does not want to admit his sickness or reveal the
wound in his soul, so he is continuously miserable."
Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos in 'The Science of Spiritual
Medicine' p.125, Birth of the Theotokos Monastery 2010.
"What is a passion? Passion is an unnatural movement of the soul,
says Maximus the Confessor, just as a physical disease is some-
thing unnatural to our body… 'Passion is an excessive feeling, or
appetite, going beyond what is reasonable. Passions are a
disturbance of our soul contrary to our nature, in disobedience
to reason. Passion is not natural and it ruins our nature instead
of fulfilling it- Clement of Alexandria”
Path to Sanity p.30, Dee Pennock, Light & Life Publishing
Company, Minneapolis, MN 2010
Envy is mainly sadness at our neighbour's happiness and joy at
his misfortune...Usually the envious person is anxious and
overcome by unbearable sorrow, not because something bad
has happened to him, but because something good has
happened to his fellow human being. He takes no account of
his own blessings and does not praise God for the benefits
bestowed on him everyday. Instead, he is tormented by his
brother's happiness. He is distressed because his brother is
glad and possesses more than he does.Metropolitan Hierotheos
Vlachos in 'The Science of Spiritual Medicine' p.125,Birth of the
Theotokos Monastery 2010.
Envy is a serious wound as no other passion is so destructive
of men's souls. Ibid p.126 The envious man usually examines other
people's lives and tries to compare his own life with theirs.
When he realizes that his brother surpasses him, he lets the
terrible passion of envy show itself. Usually the first sign of
the passion is dejection, distress and misery. Sorrow and
despondency never leave the envious man.
The physical and spiritual merits of others become a source of
sorrow and gloom. Even their material possessions upset him.
Someone afflicted by envy is like a naked man wounded by
everyone. He is very deeply hurt, cut to the heart. 'All these
wounds and injuries strike to the depths of his heart' St Basil
"The envious man usually has his eyes everywhere. He is always
carefully watching for grounds to make an accusation. He
observes how the other person talks and behaves...When the
victim of his envy is praised, the envious man is ready to
contradict. Ibid p.126-127. ..The passion of envy may be
carefully hidden by sorrow and a tendency to criticize. It is
also sometimes concealed behind praise for others. Envy has
terrible consequences. It distorts a person's soul." Ibid p.127
"Envy is a sign of a carnal life. St Gregory of Sinai stresses
the same point: 'Those who are completely given over to
pursuits of the flesh and full of self-love are always slaves to
sensual pleasure and to vanity. Envy too, is rooted in them'.
The envious man is spiritually blind. The eye of his soul, the
nous, is blinded and cannot discern good from bad. It cannot
even perceive the grace of God. St Thalassios says succintly,
'The Lord blinds the envious nous, because it is resentful of
its neighbour's blessings'.
The person overcome by the passion of envy ends up without
faith. St Nikitas Stithatos says, 'Lack of faith is evil, the worst
offspring of wicked avarice and envy.' Envious people waste
away from the passion of envy and 'state slanderously that
good is bad, calling it the fruit of deceit. They do not accept
things of the Spirit or believe in them, and because of their
lack of faith, they cannot see or know God' (St Gregory of
Sinai)." Ibid p.129
"Envious people, by the very fact that they are envious, show
that they do not have love. The envious man cannot and does
not want to love. The envious man also destroys what he has
. ...envy consumes the soul that bears it". Ibid p.129
It is possible to have spiritual envy. "St Nikitas Stithatos says
that envious people are consumed with jealousy against those
who have received the grace of the Spirit in the form of
wisdom and divine knowledge. The passion of envy also
injures those against whom it is directed. It does great harm,
especially if its victims do not have the strength and spiritual
courage to deal with the situation." Ibid p.129
"the offsprings of envy are: conspiracy, malice, spite,
argumentation, slander, fraud, betrayal, murder" St Nikodimos
the Hagiorite in the Exomologetarion p.79, Translated by
Fr George Dokos, Uncut Mountain Press 2006
Obviously envy can lead to stealing and many other forms of
criminal behavior. Unfortunately, once the victim of the
envious person has been destroyed, the poison of this evil
viper of envy does not cease to hurt the envious, the inner
discontent continues and it can even lead to suicide.
And so, how may we be healed from the passion of envy?,
how may we help others in the grip of this evil? First, we
must heed St Basil's warning; "envy is an extremely difficult
kind of enmity to handle. Acts of kindness irritate the envious
man even more. Dogs calm down when fed,..but envious men
become wilder when treated well. Good deeds make them
even more furious." The Science of Spiritual Medicine p.130
Second,"St Maximos the Confessor analyses the case of Saul,
who persecuted David in spite of being treated kindly by him.
He says that anyone who, out of envy, hates and vilifies a man
because he outshines him in the struggle for virtue...is choked
by an evil spirit". Ibid p. 130. A person under the power of
envy is being tormented by a demon.
King David sings, "The earth is the Lord's and all its fullness,
the world and those who dwell therein" Psalm 24:1 The
riches of God are unlimited. " The noted sociologist George
Foster, developed a concept of 'limited good'. He explains the
belief in many cultures that there 'is only so much good to go
around, and if you don't have good then you are stuck with evil.
Your neighbour's increase of good then deprives you of good
and brings you evil." From 'Death by Envy' p. 6, by Fr George
Aquaro, iUniverse,Inc 2004.
Aquaro, iUniverse,Inc 2004.
"The careful reader will see that if everything belongs to the
Creator, then to believe that one deserves something is in fact
self-idolatry. The Decalogue shows the dynamic that idolatry
leads to envy, which leads to murder. Only in a slight
preference aside from God, is one idolatrous and capable of
sin. This slight preference for one's self instead of God reveals
that one deserves something more than God, is the seed of
envy. The deceit of Adam and Eve was their own belief that
they deserved to eat of the tree". Ibid p.35
The Epistles link envy to pride in several instances, Gal 5:26
"Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying
one another; and James 4:1-4: 'Where do wars and fights come
from among you? Do they not come from your desires for
pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have.
You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war".
Prophet Job had the right perspective, "The Lord gave and
the Lord has taken away: Blessed be the name of the Lord"
Job 1:21 Therefore as we can see, our acknowledgement of
God's sovereignty and unlimited riches, and the pursuit of
humility as expressed by St Paul in his letter to Timothy,
can help us in our healing from envy. "And having food and
clothing, with these we shall be content." 1 Tim. 6:8
"St Cyprian of Carthage in his treatise, 'On jealousy and Envy'
warned his reader against laughing off one's own envy, seeing
it as a constant source of danger to one's life."
Death by Envy p.76
"St Basil the Great in his Homily 11 'Çoncerning Envy'
recommended that the faithful not have friendships with
envious people, quoting Solomon from Ecclesiastes 4:4,
"Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man
is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping
for the wind." His argument was that the envious only have
an effect on those whom they are intimate with."
"St Basil is a champion for the unlimited good of God and
the universal ownership of the Almighty rather than men."
Death by Envy p.77
Metropolitan Hierotheos advices,"We need to show particular
love towards those people whom we feel inwardly inclined
to envy. In particular we ought to pray about the passion, but
also pray for those whom we feel tempted to envy.
We should regard everything that our brother has as gifts of
God's grace. He is the Giver of all gifts. Spiritual guidance is
needed from a priest skilled in the Orthodox way of healing."
The Science of Spiritual Medicine p.132 In other words we
need the sacrament of repentance (Confession).
need the sacrament of repentance (Confession).
If we are the victims of envy we should, "show patience and
forbearance. Whoever bears this trial joyfully receives
consolation from God and acquires blessed humility. It is worth
noting that this sort of patience is usually found in God's more
valiant children, those who have spiritual fortitude and courage.
All those who patiently endure their brother's envious disposition
will gain a martyr's crown."
We should avoid living with or in the same place as those who
envy us, because great harm will result. Abba Poimen adviced
someone: Do not live in a place where you see that some are
jealous of you, for you will not make progress. In general when
we have the grace of God within us and are in a good spiritual
state, then the darts of the envious man cannot injure us and
we suffer no harm. However when our souls are not strong and
we are easily shaken, we must, with love and for the sake of
love, break off our friendship with the envious person and stop
associating with him....but that does not mean that we should
stop praying for him or caring about his life.
St Basil urges, "Brothers, let us escape this illness that
teaches hostility to God, the mother of murder, which
confounds nature, ignores friendship and is the most
irrational misfortune. Let us escape this unbearable vice.
It is a lesson learned from the serpent, an invention of the
demons, the seed sown by the enemy, a foretaste of
damnation, an obstacle to devotion, the road to hell and
the loss of the Kingdom." Ibid p.133-134
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