Thrive Over Sin (3 of 4): Do Not Envy or Be Angry
Over the past two weeks, we have been exploring together classic and modern insights regarding The Seven Deadly Sins. This list of seven sins, which have been called the deadly sins, represents a framework for understanding some of the dangers that befall all human persons, as we struggle to find our place in the world, a foundation for our meaning and purpose, and our sense of connection to a superior being that may or may not make claims on our lives. At its core, then, this list of seven sins draws our attention to what it truly means to be a Christian.
To be a "Christian", in the truest sense of this term, is to re-orient our lives after the teachings, and the example of the life, of Jesus. In so doing, a Christian discovers a new power for living — or, we might call it a motivation or a strength — a power that comes from beyond ourselves, enabling us to do what we cannot do on our own; a power whose source is the Holy Spirit, that now indwells us because we have invited her to. That Spirit becomes available more fully to us as we increasingly believe and trust in God. It is in this way that we can have a relationship with God, insofar that we believe that God is real and trust that God is with us and enables a full and abundant life in us.
If that definition of the Christian life sounds appealling to you, then you will understand why it saddens greatly when I see so-called "Christians" not reflecting this increasingly perfect lifestyle. As Dallas Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy, pointed out recently, at a conference that I attended, there is a big difference between professing, believing and knowing. Each of these states produces very different kinds of Christians.
The "professing Christian" ... The "believing Christian" ... But it is the "knowing Christian" who really exemplifies the disciples of Jesus because it is they alone who are empowered by the Spirit to overcome sin in their life.
For the professing and believing kinds of Christians, sin remains a powerful temptation because they cannot and do not thrive spiritually. They fail to thrive spiritually because they do not really trust God and do not really invite the Spirit into their life. Their lives are not re-oriented after the teaching and lifestyle of Jesus, which assumes the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit; so, that "every one of the historic Seven deadly Sins has, in fact, become an essential element of some aspect of modern life" (James Taylor, Sin: A New Understanding of Virtue and Vice) becomes and overwhelming and painful reality for the professing and believing kinds of Christians.
J. Vernon McGee argues that
Sin is a concept worth saving, but I must insist also that sin has in no way changed. What the Bible calls sin is still sin. Human nature is still human nature [...] The church and its officers must hold to New Testament doctrine, calling sin the sins which are clearly labeled as such in the Word of God. —J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary.
So let us be honest with ourselves and consider how able we are to withstand the pressures, both within us and without us, to slide the slippery slope of sin, rather than live the abundant with-God life, as we investigate two more of the sins called deadly.
Envy: Do Not Be Envious
- Envy is not to be confused with ... (Stalker, I)
- Let us not think that we are above envy, as its very subtlety belies its capacity as the source of some of the worst crimes in history ... (Stalker, II)
- Envy is evident as much in the strong and the moderately able, as well as the weak and lazy ... (Stalker, III)
- The remedy for envy is ... (Stalker, IV)
Do not fret because of evildoers.
Do not envy the wicked;
for the evil have no future;
the lamp of the wicked will go out.
- common grace
Anger: Do Not Be Angry
- Anger is a reaction (a là Bowen theory), yielding a physical response to an emotional stimulus ... (Stalker, Anger)
- There is a place for righteous anger; in such instances, being tame or silent is the sin ... (Stalker, I)
- Anger proceeds into dangerous territory when ... (Stalker, II)
Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel—both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you. —Frederick Buechner, in R. B. Zuck's The Speaker's Quote Book.
- There are remedies for anger ... (Stalker, III)
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. —James 1:19-20
What does it mean to thrive spiritually?
- Living a life with-God enables a re-orientation of our values towards virtue, rather than vice. In seeking virtue, there is power! In living powerfully, there is glory. All inherently want virtue.
- Modern "Sins"
- Ten Commandments for Cars
- Gandhi's deadly sins (http://www.deadlysins.com/features/gandhi.htm)
- In our pursuit of wholeness, let us deal with the issues appropriately. We might think that we are able to overcome temptation on our own, but, as the writer of The Epistle to Jude reminds us, it is God alone who is able to help us overcome sin. (e.g. "Everything" by Tim Hughes)