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Seven Deadly Sins: ENVY

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This Sunday we will begin a series on the Seven Deadly Sins. We begin with envy.

Our Scripture reading is: Genesis 4:1-16.

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Introduction

The name "The Seven Deadly Sins" can be a bit misleading. We might wonder, "Why those seven and no others?" Even the term "deadly" can be a bit troublesome when we consider that Jesus died for all our sins, and only one sin is, as Jesus noted, unforgivable (Matthew 12:31-32). 

In her book Glittering Vices, Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung notes that the seven "deadly sins" are better called capital vices. A vice is a bad habit or a negative character trait. There are seven capital vices because all other vices (or sins) can be organized under these seven.

However, if you look up the seven deadly sins you may get lists that vary a little bit. This has been the case throughout church history. There was always strong agreement about the list of Christian virtues, but not so with the Seven Deadly Sins.

In her book, DeYoung organizes them like a tree with pride at the root. She considers pride not as one of the deadly sins (or capital vices) but as the vice out of which all others grow (see Genesis 3 and how pride functions in the Fall). Out of pride grows the "seven deadly sins" or seven capital vices: Envy, Vainglory, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony, Lust, Anger.

(I tried to post a picture but it's still not working. I will try again later.)

Each week we will look at one of these "deadly sins". This week, we start with envy ...

 

Envy

Cain couldn't bear it that God accepted his brother's offering and not his. Cain wasn't just angry about that, he was filled with envy. If he couldn't have God's blessing, Abel wouldn't either.

Envy, though, is a word that we often use interchangably with other words like jealousy, greed, and coveting. But envy, as we will see, is different from these and it is very destructive.

To begin to understand how envy is different I invite you to read this prayer from one of the characters in William Langland's book, "Piers Plowman":

"I have a neighbour near me whom I annoy often, and belie him to lords to make him lose silver, and to make his friends foes through my false speaking. His gain and good luck grieve me sorely. Between house and house I sow hatred, so that life and limb are lost through my whispers. When I meet at market the man whom I envy I greet him graciously or with friendly manners and fear to offend him, for he is the stronger. If I had might and mastery, God knows my wishes! ... So I live without love, like a low mongrel, and all my body bursts from the bitterness of my anger."

As we study envy (as for all the sins we will look at) we will try to see how it shows up in our lives and then look to the cross and see how God's love helps us set aside our envy and love one another.

 

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Guest Sunday, 19 August 2018

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