The devil was travelling across the desert when he came upon a few of his minions who were tempting a holy man who was easily shaking off their evil suggestions. Try as they might, the demons couldn’t get the man to sin. The devil watched for a while and then stepped in to give them a lesson. He leaned over and whispered in the holy man’s ear, “Your brother was just made bishop of Alexandria.” Suddenly a scowl of jealousy clouded the peaceful face of the man. His whole demeanour changed and his body drooped. “That,” said the devil to his imps, “is what I recommend.”

The holy man wasn’t tempted with sins of the flesh or inflated wealth but hearing something good about a rival (his own brother) depleted him of goodwill. We live in an age where envy flourishes. We are envious of others’ careers, travel, body type, house and or family. You name it. Envy is that feeling that what someone else has should be what we ought to have. Worse, malicious envy is when you want to take it away from the other person. As one evangelical dictionary puts it, envy is the “sin of jealousy over the blessings and achievements of others.”

Envy isn’t pretty and left unchecked brings more problems. James 3:16 tells us, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” Better to check it early and not let it take hold. Do you have any envy to confess?