Faithlife Sermons


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Envy; this word (phthonos), is a mean word. Euripides called it “the greatest of all diseases among men.” The essence of it is that it does not describe the spirit which desires, nobly or ignobly, to have what someone else has; it describes the spirit which grudges the fact that the other person has these things at all. It does not so much want the things for itself; it merely wants to take them from the other. The Stoics defined it as “grief at someone else’s good.” Basil called it “grief at your neighbour’s good fortune.” It is the quality, not so much of the jealous, but rather of the embittered mind.

Envy (phthonos). There is a good and a bad envy. There is the envy which reveals to a man his own weakness and inadequacy, and which makes him eager to copy some great example. And there is the envy which is essentially a grudging thing. It looks at a fine person, and is not so much moved to aspire to that fineness, as to resent it. It is the most warped and twisted of human emotions.

Strife (eris). Its meaning is the contention which is born of envy, ambition, the desire for prestige, and place and prominence. It comes from the heart in which there is jealousy. If a man is cleansed of jealousy, he has gone far to being cleansed of all that arouses contention and strife. It is God-given gift to be able to take as much pleasure in the successes of others as in one’s own.

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