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The Book of Proverbs. The Evil of Envy Proverbs 14:30; 23:17; Portions of Psalm 73. The Evil of Envy. A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (14:30) Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. (23:17). The Evil of Envy.

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the book of proverbs

The Book of Proverbs

The Evil of Envy

Proverbs 14:30; 23:17; Portions of Psalm 73

the evil of envy
The Evil of Envy
  • A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (14:30)
  • Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. (23:17)
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The Evil of Envy

Portions of Psalm 73

  • A psalm of Asaph. Surely God is good … to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.
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The Evil of Envy

Portions of Psalm 73 (continued)

  • This is what the wicked are like-- always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence … When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
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The Evil of Envy

Portions of Psalm 73 (continued)

  • When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
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The Evil of Envy
  • The early Christians (in about the fourth century) classified envy as one of the “seven deadly sins”.
  • In modern times, it has been my observation that we don’t take the sin of envy very seriously.
  • Jerry Bridges, lists envy as one of the sins that Christians today seem to view as “respectable sins” (Respectable Sins, chapter 18).
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The Evil of Envy

Things We’ll Cover Today:

  • What is Envy?
  • Why We Should Deal With Envy?
  • How We Should Deal With Envy?
  • To Whom Shall We Go?
what is envy
What is Envy?

Envy is:

  • Wanting somebody else’s life – instead of rejoicing in the good they have, you weep over the fact that you don’t have it.
  • Being unhappy with other people’s happiness and happy with other people’s unhappiness.
  • The opposite of love and concern for others
    • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy… (1Cor 13:4)
    • Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Rom 12:15)
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What is Envy?

Some Biblical Examples of Envy:

  • Although the word envy is not used, envy seems to be a part of what motivated Adam and Eve to sin in the garden: For God knows that when you eat of [the forbidden fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Gen 3:5)
  • Isaac planted crops in [Gerar, the land of the Philistines] and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. [Isaac] became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. (Gen 26:12-14)
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What is Envy?

Some Biblical Examples of Envy:

  • When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. … When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I'll die!” Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” (Gen 29:31a; 30:1-2)
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What is Envy?

Some Biblical Examples of Envy:

  • Joseph’s brothers became envious of Joseph when he had a dream from God prophesying that he would rule over them. (Gen 37:5-11)
  • King Saul became envious of David when he was successful in battle and the women of Israel sang in celebration, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (1Sam 18:7)
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What is Envy?

Some Biblical Examples of Envy:

  • In Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard, the workers who worked all day grumbled against the landowner because they thought they should have been paid more than the men who only worked one hour. The landowner asked, “Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? ” (Mat 20:15)
  • It was out of envy that the chief priests handed Jesus over to Pilate to be put to death. (Mark 15:9-10)
why we should deal with envy
Why We Should Deal With Envy?
  • Obviously the most important reason to avoid any sin, is out of obedience to God.
  • Tim Keller suggests four additional reasons why we need to avoid envy:
    • Envy hides itself.
    • Envy sucks all the joy out of your life.
    • Envy poisons your ability to enjoy and be grateful for the things you have.
    • If you understand what you envy, you’ll understand your own heart .
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Why We Should Deal With Envy?

Envy hides itself.

  • We don’t want to admit we are envious because of the stigma of its enormous pettiness.
  • Because envy is so apt to hide you need to look for it.
  • Possible clues – you might be envious if:
    • You are constantly irritated with someone to a point where you have become hypercritical of them
    • You’re unhappy and full of self-pity much of the time.
    • When you see someone rich or powerful fall and you secretly rejoice
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Why We Should Deal With Envy?

Envy sucks all the joy out of your life.

  • Envy is a vacuum pump on joy. You see people around you that are enjoying life and you hate it.
  • Keller cites secular writer Joseph Epstein in his book on envy who observes:
    • Giving into sloth is rather pleasant;
    • Giving into loss of temper entails a release that is not without its small delights;
    • Lust, greed, pride bring quite a bit of pleasure for quite a long time.
    • Only envy is absolutely no fun at all, draining all joy from you from its very first moment!
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Why We Should Deal With Envy?

Envy poisons your ability to enjoy and be grateful for the things you have.

  • Nothing in your life is good enough:
    • Your job isn’t good enough
    • Your body isn’t good enough
    • Your friendships aren’t good enough
    • Your marriage isn’t good enough.
  • You’re always finding fault, because you’re comparing yourself to everyone else.
  • Envy poisons you psychologically and socially.
  • That’s why the Proverb says: A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (14:30)
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Why We Should Deal With Envy?

If you understand what you envy, you’ll understand your own heart .

  • “Learn what you envy and you’ll know who you are.” (Joseph Epstein as cited by Keller)
  • Keller cites Kierkegaard in his book, “Sickness unto Death” which says that God calls all human beings to live before God (center your life on God). But human beings are offended by this invitation because they don’t want anything better than them. So they look to other things to justify their existence.
  • If knowing God delights in you is not the greatest desire of your heart, you will be drained by envy all your life.
how we should deal with envy
How We Should Deal With Envy?
  • Proverbs tells us not to be envious of sinners, but to fear God instead:
    • Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. (23:17)
  • This seems to suggest that turning away from envy involves turning toward God.
  • Psalm 73 gives us an example of how to do this.
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How We Should Deal With Envy?
  • In Psalm 73 we see the meditations of an Old Testament believer (named Asaph) who believed that God was good to those who serve Him, but struggled with the fact that many of those around him who were arrogant and wicked seemed to get away with it and were even prospering in spite of their behavior!
    • A psalm of Asaph. Surely God is good … to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalm 73:1-3)
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How We Should Deal With Envy?
  • In fact, these wicked people seemed to live an almost charmed life:
    • They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills … This is what the wicked are like-- always carefree, they increase in wealth. (Psalm 73:4-5,12)
  • And yet they are living in open defiance of God! Doesn’t God care?!
    • They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven … They say, "How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” (Psalm 73:8-11)
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How We Should Deal With Envy?
  • As he thought about these things, it made him wonder if he might not be better off becoming like them!
    • Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. (Psalm 73:13)
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How We Should Deal With Envy?
  • But then he went to the sanctuary (the place of Jewish worship in that day) and got caught up in the worship of God, and he began to change his perspective as he contemplated the bigger picture:
    • When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely You place them on slippery ground; You cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when You arise, O Lord, You will despise them as fantasies. (Psalm 73:16-20)
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How We Should Deal With Envy?
  • And as he thinks about the final destination of the wicked, he realizes how shortsighted he had been in his assessment of the situation and begins to repent:
    • When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You. Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. (Psalm 73:21-23)
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How We Should Deal With Envy?
  • As a result of his reassessment of the situation, he begins to realize how blessed he is to be in right relationship with God:
    • You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:24-26)
to whom shall we go
To Whom Shall We Go?
  • In Psalm 73, Asaph rhetorically asks God: Whom have I in heaven but You? – then answers his own question: earth has nothing I desire besides You … God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
  • In the gospel of John we are told of an occasion where Jesus confronted a crowd of followers with their unbelief and they walked away from Him. Jesus then turned to His disciples and asked , “You do not want to leave too, do you?”(John 6:67) and Peter, speaking for the twelve gives a response reminiscent of the words of Asaph: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God”(John 6:68-69)