June 23, 2016 by Lauren
I ran this review on my old blog over four years ago, but since it became relevant again this past weekend at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conferences 2016 in Indianapolis (which was awesome, by the way), I thought I would repost it here.
When I started seminary, I was in a bit of a unique position – I was the only full-time female student in the entire school. My professors were rather fantastic about the gender-thing (as well as everything else), but obviously, there are just some things women need other women for. As it happens, one of the women who really shaped my seminary years is married to my favorite seminary professor (who also happened to be a pastor at my church). Right about the time I left Charlotte, Melissa was hired as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at our church.
I’m sure the wisdom of Melissa Kruger will come out in various and sundry contexts on this blog, but today I just want to flog her new/first book.
The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World is a convicting, challenging book. Melissa guides us to look unflinchingly at the sin in our hearts, unwaveringly at the Savior Who redeems our hearts, and hopefully to the Spirit Who heals and sanctifies our hearts.
The Envy of Eve argues that there is a consistent pattern in the way that coveting affects people: we see, we covet, we take, we hide. Sounds like Eve, right? She sees the fruit, she wants it, she takes it, and then girlfriend is sewing up fig leaves and ducking behind bushes. This pattern is all over the book, and I’m pretty sure it’s all over my life too. Melissa spends the first half of the book discussing the pattern – what it looks like, where it comes from, and how it meets its end – and the second half demonstrating how this pattern works itself out in our coveting of different things. This “see-covet-take-hide” thing is not Eve-specific, and Melissa makes sure we can’t deny its effect in the men and women of the Bible and in our own lives. I, for one, would not have done such careful self-examination if I had not been led through it; thankfully, I can flog this book with a metaphorical steak over my metaphorical black eye and tell you gleefully that the beating is totally worth it.
One particularly helpful point for me was that we can “take” because of our coveting in a way that has nothing to do with obtaining the actual thing we are coveting. In other words, coveting rarely will goad someone like me to steal the thing I want, but boy, I sure can steal from what I owe or am called to give others when I am under its influence. Here’s a snippet from the chapter entitled “Coveting Seasons and Circumstances” that really kicked my butt:
…[We] take because we are unable to love our neighbor as Christ loved us. When we simply view our neighbor as a means of measuring ourselves, we will never care for him or her well. We will fixate on what is easier in that person’s life and fail to sympathize or support what may be difficult for him or her. Our prayers will be centered on our own cares, instead of on those around us. (210)
Though this book is easily applicable to all kinds of Christians, Melissa specifically is writing for an adult female audience. The only way you can really tell this is her examples – her exegesis, analysis, and systematic theology are top-notch, and her frank, straightforward tone is refreshing. I feel like I have to say this, because the assumption is often that books written for women are “theology-lite.” Maybe some of them fit that category, but this book is not one of them.
One of the best things about this book is that Melissa does not aim it at single women, or married women, or married stay-at-home moms with kids, or empty nesters, or any particular subset of women who belong to Christ – I was made to feel the communion of the saints in a new way, because women 50 years older than me and 6 life-stages away were addressed alongside women like me. We really do all have the same problems, and in the same Savior we find the redemption and restoration for us all.