If it’s true that ‘envy rots the bones’ then my bones are dust

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By Nancy Kennedy

If it’s true, as the proverb says, that “envy rots the bones,” then my bones are dust.
Every once in a while, I hear from a certain friend whose life is perfect, or so I think.
Just recently she posted on Facebook: “Well, we can cross a trip to Ireland off our list!! Had a fabulous vacation with all our wonderful kids, their spouses and our five — five!! — adorable grandbabies!!!”
It took the full resurrection force of the Holy Spirit to not comment: “The overuse of exclamation points is a sign of undisciplined writing!” (as an editor once told me).
My husband always knows when I hear from this person because steam blows out my ears and my green eyes turn even greener.
Years ago, we both were at the same writers’ event. It had been a while since I had last seen her and I didn’t recognize her at first because she had lost a boatload of weight and got rid of her ugly hair.
She was wearing this black dress, sleeveless, plain, straight and elegant and she looked good in it, with tan arms and tan legs — thin, tan arms and thin, tan legs.
She looked amazing and I hated her.
Not only did she look great, but she had hit the writer’s jackpot by stumbling onto an idea for a book that had endless spin-off potential, which publishers and readers love, and she was at this event to showcase her 10 zillion book titles.
Wearing that dang black dress.
I could have that black dress, I thought.
I tried to avoid her, but wouldn’t you know I got stuck sitting at the same table with her for lunch.
So, I sat there wishing evil on her, that she’d gain all that weight back, that she’d spill salad dressing on her black dress, that her books wouldn’t sell, that her hair would frizz or even fall out.
She had what I wanted. I wanted — still want — tan arms and legs and a body that looks good in a simple little black dress.
Why her and not me?
(Well, maybe it could be me if I stopped eating cookies for breakfast and go to the Y instead of sitting on the couch watching endless reruns of “Law and Order” on TV.)
But that’s not the point. The point is, whenever I think of this person I either fly into a blind rage or I break out the chips and salsa for a marathon pity party, feeding my propensity to compare my life with hers, as well as with others.
It’s one of my favorite pastimes, counting other people’s blessings instead of my own.
The other day I read that envy is the “stupidest of all vices, for there is no single advantage to be gained from it.”
So true.
Socrates called envy “the ulcer of the soul,” and someone else said envy “eats nothing but its own heart.”
God’s Word says it rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30) and that “where you have envy and contention, rivalry and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder, unrest and rebellion and every evil thing and morally degrading practice” (James 3:16, my paraphrase).
Envy is bad — bad to the bone.
A number of years ago at my church, we learned about the “seven deadly sins” — greed, gluttony, lust, pride, wrath, sloth and envy. My pastor said that although every sin is deadly, these top the list because all other sins spring from these.
He said with envy, the end result is a crazed ego, thinking everything belongs to me.
That sounds about right. Not only do I want what others have, but if I can’t have it, I don’t want them to have it either.
Envy kicks and screams like a toddler throwing a tantrum. It’s me getting in God’s face and telling him that all his goodness to me, all that he’s given me, is not enough.
Envy is a sin against God and it rots my bones — and if I don’t do something about it, eventually, I’ll end up crumpled on the floor in a heap with buzzards pecking out my eyes.
The truth is, I have everything that God wants me to have, all the honor and position, opportunity and prestige, all the vacations and money and stuff that he knows I need.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul, fills my life with good things, covers me with mercy and grace.
He forgives my evil heart — and he heals my rotting bones as I turn my eyes toward him.