January 05, 2014 Book Review

The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World

The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World

Melissa B. Kruger

Reviewed by: Rhonda Telfer

The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World, by Melissa B. Kruger. Published by Christian Focus, 2012. Paperback, 256 pages, list price $14.99. Reviewed by OP member Rhonda Telfer.

In nine probing chapters, Melissa Kruger analyzes the sin of coveting from a variety of angles. She demonstrates how pervasive it is in the human heart, and sees it as the root of other sins. She shows that coveting is a universal temptation that catches people at every stage of life.

The author argues that our coveting typically falls into the pattern of Eve's sin: we see, we desire, we take, and we hide. Kruger discusses five areas in which we compare ourselves and come up dissatisfied and resentful: possessions, romantic relationships, family and friendships, circumstances, and abilities. She finds a biblical example for each, unfolding the accounts of Israel in the wilderness, Korah the Levite, Joseph and his brothers, David and Bathsheba, and Judas the betrayer. She then lists the temptations women face today, and gives examples—often from her own life—of situations that invite coveting.

Kruger is a well-read, Reformed believer. She quotes the Belgic and Westminster Confessions, and numerous Christian thinkers, such as John Owen and Thomas à Kempis. Her breadth and depth of Bible study is obvious and edifying to the reader.

The weakness of the book may be a tendency to overwhelm the reader with law. Kruger tries to root out "inordinate motions and affections" in us, but perhaps goes too far at times. Her critique of a tired mother tempted to "covet sleep," or of a woman "[taking] joy from others" by not showing enough enthusiasm at their good news, may invite excessive self-scrutiny and joylessness more than gospel rest. The author rightly urges women to pray, read Scripture, and expect fulfillment in God himself. But the risk is a sort of monkish view of the Christian life, where valid pleasures and longings—intimacy, physical enjoyments, and earthly beauty—become suspect, rather than experiences that, in and of themselves, can be opportunities to "do all to the glory of God."

Each chapter ends with questions for personal reflection and/or group discussion. I would recommend the book for the latter, so long as there is theologically astute leadership to navigate conscience-troubled women through the proper application of law and gospel. In this way, the book can be useful to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

In the end, this is a book about obedient living from the heart outward. The author loves Christ, shares her struggles honestly, and writes with a sincere desire to encourage her sisters in Christ. The core of coveting, she shows, is the failure to trust in God's character. Kruger is a mature sister in Christ who loves and understands the character of our God.



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