If Envy Were A Fever, All The World Would Be ill!


One of my heroes as a boy was a light hitting second baseman for the New York Yankees.

“Sports writer Ted Simonson had been assigned to collect material for a book on Bobby Richardson, the New York Yankees’ great second baseman in the 1960s. Ted was chatting with Bobby in a Baltimore hotel lobby after a game with the Orioles. A few feet away from them was the Yankees’ superstar, Mickey Mantle, signing autographs in the midst of a boisterous crowd of youthful fans.

Ted writes, “I noticed one boy having trouble getting through the crowd with his autograph book. Suddenly he saw the two of us and ran up to Bobby.

“‘Do you work for the Yankees, mister?’

“‘Sure do,’ was the reply.

“‘Would you please get Mickey’s autograph for me?’

“Bobby got up immediately, walked to the crowd, and waited until he could get through to the famous home-run hitter. A few moments later, he returned.

“‘There you are,’ he said, returning the autograph book.

“‘Thanks, mister!’ And the boy was gone. It was clear that he had no notion of who had done him the favor.

“Bobby grinned at me. ‘I get to do that a lot,’ he said as we continued our interview.”

We, like Bobby Richardson, need to be comfortable with who we are. (WitandWisdom.org)

Bobby Richardson seemed to get it. There is always someone who has talents and abilities that will surpass ours. If we allow envy to enter our hearts, its traveling companion of unhappiness is always following shortly behind. A number of years ago Jeffrey Holland had a few words to say regarding envy. He said:

“It has been said that envy is the one sin to which no one readily confesses, but just how widespread that tendency can be is suggested in the old Danish proverb, “If envy were a fever, all the world would be ill.” The parson in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales laments it because it is so far-reaching—it can resent anything, including any virtue and talent, and it can be offended by everything, including every goodness and joy.As others seem to grow larger in our sight, we think we must therefore be smaller. So, unfortunately, we occasionally act that way.

How does this happen, especially when we wish so much that it would not? I think one of the reasons is that every day we see allurements of one kind or another that tell us what we have is not enough. Someone or something is forever telling us we need to be more handsome or more wealthy, more applauded or more admired than we see ourselves as being. We are told we haven’t collected enough possessions or gone to enough fun places. We are bombarded with the message that on the world’s scale of things we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. (“The Other Prodigal”, GC, April 2002)

Holland concluded his remarks with this great lesson.

“…I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, “robes … made … white in the blood of the Lamb.” May we encourage each other in our effort to win that prize is my earnest prayer…”

With Social Media under heavy scrutiny, for good reason,  because it causes so much envy let us follow the example set by Mr. Richardson. Let us believe in the words of Jeffrey Holland and chase envy from our hearts. Allowing it to settle in our souls is a recipe for bitterness, sin, and unhappiness. Let us not go through life ill from the poison of letting envy into our lives.

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