Greed, Jealousy and Spirituality Question


#1

How do you handle the feelings of jealousy and greed? I am in my lower 30s and we have enough. But next to some of our friends it “looks” like we do not have much. To be real, wife and I have not increased out income to any degree for being well educated and being in the work force for 10 years. Inflation is outpacing our income. And that is entirely our fault/choice.

I know money is not everything, I am sure I could double my income overnight if we moved or if DW would work full vs part time. But I feel called to be where we are at for now. I am looking into a career change not to just increase the income but to get me into something I am called to do. Perhaps that will help.

That still leaves the overriding issue, I cannot get the jealousy under control from time to time. Do you have suggestions?

Thanks Eric


#2

Fight jealousy with giving.

For centuries, Christians have fought to give up their possessions. I’m not talking about selling everything and giving to the poor (although that’s a decent idea too). I’m talking about being serious about not making money one of our values. If you earn less money than them, then praise God – you’re like Jesus!

Jealousy is an endless emotion. It will *never * be satisfied by getting more, because there will always be someone new to be jealous of. The way to fight jealousy is by changing your values. If you must be jealous, be jealous of virtue, and pray that you might grow in virtue, not in wealth.


#3

If you are where you should be in life (that is where God wants you to be) and you have food on the table, employment, a roof over your heads, and clothes on your backs, what is there to be jealous of in a neighbor who has more things but no peace of heart and mind?

It sounds to me like you have all you need and then some. But, if you want to get more involved then get into a worthy apostolate/ministry at/through your parish. Join a good organization like the Knights of Columbus and join with other men of faith in giving service to your parish and community.

I don’t think it’s your job, but your feeling a lack of fulfillment–and as Prodigal_Son pointed out, there’s nothing like giving a bit of your time and talent to something worthwhile to know the grace of being where and what God wants you to be. As he also advised so rightly, be jealous for God and for God to be the center of your family’s life, and let all the rest come and go as the things of this world are bound to do.


#4

[quote=Della]If you are where you should be in life (that is where God wants you to be) and you have food on the table, employment, a roof over your heads, and clothes on your backs, what is there to be jealous of in a neighbor who has more things but no peace of heart and mind?

It sounds to me like you have all you need and then some. But, if you want to get more involved then get into a worthy apostolate/ministry at/through your parish. Join a good organization like the Knights of Columbus and join with other men of faith in giving service to your parish and community.

I don’t think it’s your job, but your feeling a lack of fulfillment–and as Prodigal_Son pointed out, there’s nothing like giving a bit of your time and talent to something worthwhile to know the grace of being where and what God wants you to be. As he also advised so rightly, be jealous for God and for God to be the center of your family’s life, and let all the rest come and go as the things of this world are bound to do.
[/quote]

Actually we are fairly involved. As for KofC, we have been honored as Family of the Year for our State. Completely unexpected and gratiously received

As for employment I went from education to banking and banking is not where my heart is. I am working on changing this but it is taking more time than I expected and obviously God’s time and plan are much different than my own. My daily prayer is patience and wisdom stressing patience.

It is a true paradox that Jesus spent his time teaching and hanging out with his companions never having owned anything or ever knowing where the next meal was coming from and had peace.

Confession for being ungrateful would useful I am sure.

Thanks Eric


#5

You might want to take a look at those with whom you and your family associate.

Obviously there will always be people who have more than you and people who have less. But if most of the people you know have a target standard of living that is beyond that which is reasonable for you and your family then you are probably going to be uncomfortable.

We all need companionship. Cultivating friendships with those who share similar values including economic values can sometimes help. This is especially the case with children.


#6

It’s encouraging to hear all that from you, Eric. Your original post made me suspicious that you were (like so many in this fallen world) somewhat wrapped up in yourself. It appears that you aren’t, at least not intolerably so. :slight_smile:

Jesus lived without envy; you and I haven’t. But Jesus was tempted to envy, and in his overcoming that temptation we can find a way to overcome our own.

Perhaps a scripture is relevant: “This kind can only come out by much prayer and fasting” - Mk 9:29


#7

A priest once told me to remind myself that if I had what the others had, then I might fall into great(er) sins than I do. Perhaps if I had many nice things, then I would start to see myself as better than others. I’d rather drive a junk car and not think too highly of myself!

Also, to have nicer things, I’d have to alter my lifestyle, which I suspect is better left the way it is.

So, anyway, I try telling myself these things. Also, I avoid hanging out with certain relatives of mine. Being with them exacerbates my envy. It also helps to confess greed or envy at every opportunity. Best of luck with this problem. Oh, also the more busy I am, the less time I have for dumb thoughts. Buying stuff takes time and effort, plus you have to maintain and be a good steward over what you buy. So, the less stuff, the less time wasted on maintenance.

BTW, if you can’t tell, I have the same problem.:smiley:


#8

[quote=EricCKS]Actually we are fairly involved. As for KofC, we have been honored as Family of the Year for our State. Completely unexpected and gratiously received
[/quote]

Congratulations! What a great honor. You and your family must be doing the right things to receive such an award–that’s where you shine. What can mere possessions mean beside such things as that?

As for employment I went from education to banking and banking is not where my heart is. I am working on changing this but it is taking more time than I expected and obviously God’s time and plan are much different than my own. My daily prayer is patience and wisdom stressing patience.

Yes, once you get out of a field it can be hard to get back into it. I will pray the right opportunity comes your way.

It is a true paradox that Jesus spent his time teaching and hanging out with his companions never having owned anything or ever knowing where the next meal was coming from and had peace.

So true. Of course, he didn’t have a family to provide for nor did he live in one community as he ministered. He did live for 30 years in Nazareth, though. And I can’t imagine him yearning for a better plainer than the carpenter next door, can you? :wink:

Confession for being ungrateful would useful I am sure.

I’m afraid most of us need to confess that! There’s so much we take for granted, isn’t there? Our health, our bounty, our opportunities that most other people in the world would give anything to have. And to top it all off–we have Christ’s Church and the Eucharist on a daily basis if we want it. What more could anyone want?

Thanks Eric

Thank you for sharing your concern, which is more common than many of us want to admit. And God bless you and your family. :slight_smile:


#9

[quote=EricCKS]That still leaves the overriding issue, I cannot get the jealousy under control from time to time. Do you have suggestions?
[/quote]

Someone else recently asked a similar question. My answer to him seems to fit here. Most of it is a repost but I have added to expand my thoughts.

At times I am tempted to envy when I see someone who has kids (my wife and I don’t yet), someone who is doing better financially, someone who has things I don’t. Then I stop and remind myself, is it this person’s fault I don’t have these things? His having these things did not result in my not having these things.

In most cases, if I work harder I can attain these things (that is the blessing of living in America). At that point I look at that person as an example. He has achieved these things because he worked to get them.

Other times I see people who seemingly don’t deserve their things. Spoiled celebrities come to mind or people who inherited their wealth and make no effort to make the world a better place. Then I take a closer look and see that these people aren’t happy. Their riches seem to make them more unhappy most of the time.

Most important, their having these things has not taken anything away from me. What I have or don’t have is mostly a result of my decisions. Envy becomes pointless when I accept responsibility for my decisions.

At the same time, where does happiness come from. Material things can be nice, but they aren’t the source of happiness. In my marriage, some of our happiest times came when we were poorest.


#10

learn about stewardship, an attitude that is not about money, but is about thankfulness and reliance on Divine Providence. Learn to regard the material things of life as peripherals, gifts from God to be used for his honor and glory, not as a barometer of earthly success and status. make your decisions about work, purchasing, where to live etc. based on a habit of discerning God’s will, not by society’s measuring sticks.

get your finances in order and reduce or eliminate consumer debt, with professional help if necessary, and start tithing today.


#11

[quote=puzzleannie]not as a barometer of earthly success and status
[/quote]

It is true. But this is very hard to do if you grew up in the wrong family. For me, all I could do was constantly refute the idea in my head. It kept coming up again and again, regardless. When so many around you make six figures and you can’t participate in family gatherings (on a beach in some southern locale or wherever), it can start to annoy you that you are not making a ton of money. It equals loss of family. Also, it causes issues about who I am. I am a total failure. I know, I’m not, but by the standards of my family, I am. It is hard to change your outlook on these things, even though you know it is malformed. (I’m talking about more than how many things I have, of course).

Age seems to be the only solution, at least for me. Once we are all rotting in a nursing home, I’ll be back on equal footing. Bwahahahaha!..…:frowning: I know what needs to be done with myself (knocked upside the head!;)). I am just saying it can be really hard to do.


#12

Two suggestions: read* Happy We Poor * by Fr. Thomas Dubay and pray the third decade of the joyful mysteries–the fruit is love of poverty. The book is challenging-- and life changing if you embrace it.

I struggle with this all the time. I trully believe that deprivation of material goods is good for us and for our children, but I still want stuff. And, I want security. And, I want activities, lessons, opportunities for my children. It is part of concupisence. Stupid Adam. Stupid Eve. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, remember feelings are not sins. When that twinge of jealousy comes up, offer it up as a temptation for the conversion of sinners. It turns the devil’s tricks against him–ha ha! I learned this trick from St. John Vianney.


#13

[quote=Pug]. Also, I avoid hanging out with certain relatives of mine. Being with them exacerbates my envy.
.:smiley:
[/quote]

My dh had the same problem with an old friend of his. The friend was buying and aquiring all the things that my husband longs for–hunting land, quads, boats, hunting trips, etc. Every time my husband talked with him or visited, he would be discontented for several weeks. Since we have lost touch with this couple, he has been more content with our lifestyle.

Good Advice.


#14

[quote=puzzleannie]learn about stewardship, an attitude that is not about money, but is about thankfulness and reliance on Divine Providence. Learn to regard the material things of life as peripherals, gifts from God to be used for his honor and glory, not as a barometer of earthly success and status. make your decisions about work, purchasing, where to live etc. based on a habit of discerning God’s will, not by society’s measuring sticks.

get your finances in order and reduce or eliminate consumer debt, with professional help if necessary, and start tithing today.
[/quote]

You are right about debt and managing what God has blessed us with. My wife are finally on the same page with $$ and work together on finances vs. one person doing it all. And we are actively paying down our debt. Only a student loan and our house to go. No other debt. We decided about two years ago we were no longer borrowing money except for homes and began paying down all remaining debts. Mostly by selling everything that was not nailed down in our home and doing some extra work. Makes a huge difference not having all the stuff follow us around like it once did. And we have begun giving regularly at mass.

Thanks Eric


#15

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