“Envy hates to see other men happy. . . . It begins by asking, plausibly: ‘Why should I not enjoy what others enjoy?’ and it ends by demanding: ‘Why should others enjoy what I may not?’ Envy is the great leveler; if it cannot level things up, it will level them down, and the words constantly in its mouth are ‘My Rights’ and ‘My Wrongs.’ “- Dorothy Sayers, The Six Other Deadly Sins (1943)
“But [the older brother] answered his father, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him.”- Luke 15:29-30 (NIV)
In Chapter 9 (“Surrendering the Self Life”) of Get Your Life Back, John Eldredge warns of something lurking up ahead. It’s a subtle trap. And it’s lying in wait to trip you up – diminish your experience. Yet, to expose and rid yourself of it provides profound relief.
Certainly, the prodigal son’s older brother fell into that trap. Because he failed to get past his perceived injustice of his father’s actions. Thus, he’s stuck in envy. His behavior defines the Offended Self.
Furthermore, John asserts, it seems that a good bit of the older brother dwells in all of us. For example, the author observes, envy and offense fill the Internet. First, envy brings depression. Next comes offense. Finally, that offense degrades into hatred. As a result, the Offended Self characterizes our culture.
In conclusion, the author notes, the old brother finds himself incapable of receiving his father’s generosity. His attention to Self closes and curtains his father off. Hence, the stubborn life of the Self represents a hidden danger. For the Exalted Me refuses to surrender and submit to the rule of Christ.
Today’s question: How do you offset any tendency to drift toward the Offended Self? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “The Self stakes out its own territory”