One way to deal with the vice of envy in the church is by serving others. By helping others, God may allow those dealing with this vice to understand how he works in their lives and cares about all of his children as their Heavenly Father. If we want to be healthy individuals, it is vital to understand first that God created humankind to live in a healthy community where there is no space for envy and competition. Every member of the community ought to rejoice in the wellness/success of others and not fill himself/herself with bitterness because God gives his children different gifts and abilities for His glory.
For example, one may experience growth while facing the vice of envy by promoting the wellness of others. By acknowledging the vice and letting God heal our whole being according to His will and not ours, He can redeem us. Though one would like vices to disappear overnight, a quick fix probably will not work. Instead, fighting against vices is a long process of maturing as a Christian. I wished pastoral caregivers would be more engaged in the role of vices in affecting our core being and appreciate its relevance in the church today.
Vices —or capital sins as we usually know them— are a profound effect on the way people relate to one another. They permeate into every aspect of human interaction and have an adverse effect on society. It was God’s intention for humankind to have healthy relationships with one another, but sin corrupted this divine plan. One purpose of the creation of human beings was to reflect God’s character to love each other as God loves. But as soon as sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, humankind was prevented from being truly honest with one another, as well as with God, which prevents humans from being who they were originally created to be. Although there is still sin in the world, it does not mean that everything is lost. Christ has redeemed believers so that they may enjoy fellowship with God again. Despite this, vices may affect and damage our relationship with God and with others: anger, lust, vainglory, avarice, gluttony, sloth, and envy. If we ignore those vices in our personal life and our communal life in the church, those vices will deepen in our soul.
It is my belief that after we sin, there is a shame that causes people to want to hide from God and others. We might feel a need to want to hide and cover our sin so we “look good” in the eyes of those around us. Needless to say, we cannot hide from God. Thus, vices can make us hide from one another. And since we are hiding and not acknowledging the damage of those vices in our lives, we cannot fight against them effectively.
So what do we do after we sin? It is quite obvious that we need God’s help. For that reason, we need the Holy Spirit to help us in our discernment process to know what areas we need to change and surrender to God so that he may transform us. Thankfully, all of it is not lost. The better we are aware of what vices are and what they do in our lives, the better we will do recognizing them and deal with those vices. Thus, if we are always hiding from our environment, we are not letting God use our lives, as he would like to use them. Despite our fears, God is always in control, and for that reason, we may rest in him. Through this process of trusting God and learning about how merciful he is, we may find the antidote to our problems. The solution is not avoiding problems at all. We can’t do that. Instead, the solution is about changing our minds: See life problems (including vices) as opportunities to grow. And during the trial process, Christ may also redeem our old patterns and our vices. Regardless of the temporal situations we might face, one thing every one of us ought to be clear about is that God always will provide for our needs: spiritual, psychological, and so on. The vice of vainglory, for example, will not disappear overnight, but through the spiritual discipline of solitude, as Rebecca DeYoung notes, where the audience or public is removed (Glittering Vices, Brazos Press 2009, p. 75). In solitude, God works with us as well.
In conclusion, we should not forget about the presence of vices in us, since sadly, it has been an area that the church has forgotten in Protestant circles. However, it is an open secret of how many believers still deal with one of these vices. Modern society has challenged the church with a series of moral problems, and the church cannot remain in silence. Vices should be discussed and addressed in our communities of faith so that we may be aware of them, and God may grant us healing in his grace.