Friday, June 29, 2012

The Dog In The Manger

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. — Titus 3:3 (NASB95)

"Envy is resenting God's goodness to others and ignoring God's goodness to me."–Rick Warren

There is a short little fable titled, “The Dog In The Manger.” It goes something like this: There was a dog lying in a manger who did not eat the grain but who nevertheless prevented the horse from being able to eat anything either.” That one sentence paints a picture that you can immediately see and understand.

Envy works in much the same way. Something good happens to someone we know. Our response, rather than being excited for them, or congratulating them, or just being happy that the person can enjoy their blessing, we instead harbor a strange emotion. It can begin as a quick jab of jealousy. It can fester into a wound that hurts us and makes us wonder why that other person was blessed when we’re not. It can grow into wall of dislike and hatred of the other person, not because of something they did to us, but because they have something we want. We resent them and their blessing.

How do you suppose you come across to other people when you feel this way about them? It can’t help but dampen your attitude, and it might cause you to behave in ways intended to punish them or hurt them. Envy is a destructive attitude and emotion, causing great harm to everyone involved, especially to one’s self.

Envy is often found in biblical lists of sins. It’s often presented as paired with some other sins. In Titus 3:3, for example, it’s paired with malice, which is defined as a desire to “inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another.” It’s not enough that envy causes us to resent other people and their blessings, it moves us to hurt them. Interestingly, when Paul wrote to Titus, he set in contrast the negatives of verse 3, with the results of our salvation in Jesus Christ. The implication is that we’re not just saved from the sin of envy in that our guilt is removed, but that the effect of the gospel of Jesus is that envy itself is minimized or eliminated. We need to think more about the stated effects of the gospel on our natural-man tendencies. Christians may have once practiced these things, but when Jesus saves you, those sinful practices must be put away.