Bridges offers a somewhat narrow definition of both envy and jealousy – envy is “the painful and oftentimes resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by someone else.” Two usual conditions tempt us to envy: envy of those close to us and envy in the areas we value most. Jealousy is intolerance of rivalry, or a fear of someone becoming equal to or superior to us. I thought it was curious that Bridges leaves out covetousness in this chapter and instead focuses on the interpersonal aspects of these types of sin.
Three important reminders can help us in the fight against envy and jealousy: turning to the sovereignty of God (which Bridges understandably turns to as an important theme in dealing with many subtle sins); remembering we who are in Christ form one body, and each member belongs to the others (Romans 12:5, NIV); and finally, realizing that if we spend emotional energy on these sins, we “lose sight of what God might do uniquely in our lives.”
Bridges also discusses competitiveness and controlling in this chapter as sins related to rivalry. The competitiveness section especially convicted me – the Pearces like to brag about our competitive genes (Killer Uno anyone?). Not that competitiveness in all forms is sinful, but Bridges says that it is basically an expression of selfishness. I don’t think Bridges is advocating a fluffy anti-competition lifestyle (in fact, he encourages healthy competition especially among children and teens), but believes that the Scriptures emphasize doing one’s best, working heartily, and seeking to bring glory to God in everything. Competition is good, but only in the context of glorifying God in doing our best. It might be easy to get sucked into bantering over semantics here – but Bridges is using “competition” in its sinful context – not in its gaming context. But competition in games can become sinful if we are ruthless or self-seeking for example.
Sometimes it seems like American culture is ultra-competitive, ultra-self-serving. Other times, it seems feminine (not in a sexist way, but in a cultural-studies/sociological way) and anti-competition. The former reminds me of a jungle mentality, the latter of a flaky one. But there is a balance, Bridges claims. I know too often I fall into the uber-competitive category and give in to the temptation to selfishness and self-edification. But Paul says in Romans 12:10 that we are to “outdo one another in showing honor” (ESV). This verse drips with love and bringing glory to God, and leaves no room for selfishness, rivalry, or competitiveness.
Now that this post is over, it’s time for some others-serving Cities & Knights.