Part 4: ENVY
The next deadly sin we want to look at is:
Envy - Jealousy and dislike felt toward another because they have a position, possession or quality one desires. You just want it, but you want it without wanting to pay the cost for it. It's a free-ride type of desire.
Holman's Bible Dictionary
Envying Material Goods
ENVY A painful or resentful awareness of another's advantage joined with the desire to possess the same advantage. The advantage may concern material goods (Gen. 26:14) or social status (30:1).
Envy Over Material Goods
God prospered Isaac and the Philistines envied him:
Gen 26:14 KJV "For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him."
Envying Social Status
Having children was a social status in Israel, and the childless envied those with children. Leah had four children in a row, but Rachel had none, and scripture says,
Gen 30:1 KJV "And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die."
Envy In The New Testament
In the New Testament envy is a common member of vices that come out of the person and defiles (Mark 7:22):
Mark 7:22 KJV "Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye [meaning, envy], blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."
God is able to provide that which you need, and sometimes even that which you want. Just ask Him. You'll find out soon enough. But God says don't envy that which is not yours. You'll defile yourself on the inside.
Envy Is Rebellion Against God
Envy is a characteristic of humanity in rebellion against God (Rom. 1:29),
Rom 1:29 KJV "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,"
Verse 28 says envy is an evil quality of "a reprobate mind," being a fruit of the flesh:
Gal 5:21 KJV "Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Envy Is A Characteristic Of An Unregenerate Life:
Titus 3:3 KJV "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another."
Notice what follows envy: "hateful, and hating one another." Envy will always cause you to hate something or someone because you can't have what you want and they have, but the desire is there. You'll get blinded by the lust of the eyes:
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Paul in Colossians 3 puts our spiritual life in the right perspective with our temporal life:
Col 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Envy begins with setting your affections on the things of this world. God says, "seek those things which are above." Protect yourselves from envy. Look up, and not across the street at your neighbor's brand new Cadillac.
Envy Is Also A Trait Of False Prophets And Teachers
1 Tim 6:4 KJV "He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,"
A false teacher only raises controversies and causes strife and evil surmisings and doting about questions. There is a place for legitimate questioning, but there is also a questioning that comes out of envy where you do whatever you can to discredit someone for spite. Christians are called to avoid envy (Gal. 5:26; 1 Pet. 2:1) because it is destructive to the Body of Christ:
Gal 5:26 KJV "Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
Envying The Arrogant, The Violent, Or The Wicked
Old Testament wisdom frequently warns against envying the arrogant (Ps. 73:3), the violent (Prov. 3:31), or the wicked (Ps. 37:1; Prov. 24:1,19): (Psa 73:3 KJV) "For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."
The wicked are prosperous, but foolish because they have no fear of God.
Prov 3:31 KJV "Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways."
I believe this to be very important for the years ahead of us. The proud, the wicked, the violent will prosper in the years ahead. Those who do not hold to these ways will not prosper. It's that simple. In fact, the wicked will want to more than prosper - they will rule the world and all that is in it.
God says don't envy the ways of the wicked or the prosperity that their wicked ways brings them. Why? Because they are prosperous through working iniquity. What does that mean, "workers of iniquity"? That means they are lawless. It means that whatever sin they need to manifest to get what they want they will do it. If they need to be arrogant, if they need to coerce, if they need to oppress, if they need to put pressure on people to yield to them until they get their way, they will. These are the types of people that breed fear in others. God says don't fear them, meaning they will try to cause you to fear through such tactics. Why does God say not to envy them? Why does He say not to fear them? Let's look at the next 8 verses of Psalm 37:
Psa 37:1 A Psalm of David. Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
God says the prosperous who gained prosperity through wicked ways will be judged by Him in His proper time, so He warns, "fret not thyself in any wise to do evil." But He would have us "Trust in the LORD, and do good," "Delight thyself . . . in the LORD," and "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him." Wait patiently for Him? For how long? What is God's ultimate measurement for patience? Verse 9: until "they [the righteous] shall inherit the earth." God says we may have to wait until the time when we inherit the earth, until the time when the wicked are judged, until the time when our Lord Jesus Christ returns to judge the nations and reign on the earth. And God says, "Cease from anger, . . . forsake wrath" (verse 8). Don't get mad at the evildoer. Do you know what makes you mad when you see the prosperity of the wicked? That they have used evil ways to get what they have, and you can't because God is watching you and living in you. You get mad because they are proud and use unjust ways and yet they prosper over and over again. Your heart says, "It's not fair!" You've done everything right and have nothing and they have done everything evil and prosper. That's why God warns, "Envy thou not . . . his ways" (Prov 3:31 KJV).
I've really have to battle this in what I do. To lay in bed sick while the prophets of TBN point right at you, sending out their anointing of healing, peddling healing by the bag full, to struggle with finances while people give gifts of a million dollars to Crouch to spread his garbage, to see all the prosperity of the wicked, while all they have I lack in service to the Lord, to see Stef struggle every time the xerox machine breaks down while they're giving each other airplanes. I get angry, and tempted, and rebuked by God on top of it all. Then I have to fight getting angry at Him for treating me this way, especially when it builds up. I get angry, and its hard sometimes because it is so evil what they are doing, and yet they prosper. It's called getting the short end of the stick. What sobers me up is this: If this is how God treats His friends, I would hate to be His enemy. Trusting God, being content in all things, learning to live when we are abased and when we abound - all this is better than getting a stick to your backside by our Almighty God and Father.
Jeremiah had the same struggle and complaint in his day concerning the false prophets:
Jer 5:28 They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. 29 Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? 30 A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
And again we read,
Jer 12:1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? 2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins. 3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. 4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end. 5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
God says, "You think this is bad, Jeremiah? It's only going to get worse, but you will see them burn with fire.
When I am unjustly treated, no matter how, I keep this before me: they, too, shall appear before Christ one day, and vengeance is His. I can wait for that and be satisfied.
Envy Is One Of The Deadliest Of Sins
The Old Testament word for envy means:
ENVY - 5355. phthonos, fthon'-os; prob. akin to the base of G5351; ill-will (as detraction), i.e. jealousy (spite):--envy.
Jealousy or envy has effects inwardly and outwardly. It causes one to get spiteful inside, and secretly wish ill-will towards another. That ill-will or spite is usually released through sarcasms, gossip, or remarks filled with spite in order to hurt the other person in an attempt to put them in their so-called place. Self-centered people manifesting envy usually try to exalt themselves because of their lack, and they do this, as I said, through spite, anger, self-righteousness, gossip and the like.
Looking at this spiritually, the solution is to be who we are according to what God has shown us to be in Him. If a person hasn't done that, if he hasn't sought Him with all his heart, if he hasn't put in his time, if He hasn't suffered the discipline and working of God in his life, then the envious person simply wants a free-ride because he is spiritually lazy or lukewarm (spiritual slothfulness). People go through trials to learn to walk in God in order to do what they know He is calling them to do. That's true of everybody, and if all Christians do that, then there is no reason for envy.
ENVY Kills In A Variety Of Ways
Outward manifestations of envy bring about controversies and contentions. I found an interesting word in the following:
Job 5:2 KJV "For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one."
The word I am speaking of is a definitive one for silly and the word is "flatter." We shouldn't flatter ourselves into thinking we're something we're not because the trap in doing that is envy. We shouldn't flatter ourselves that we could do what someone else does in service to God when God has formed that person for that or brought them into that. That's sinister delusion. Look at one of the following verses:
Job 5:5 [the silly one] Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.
When we envy what others have or do or are, we don't harvest anything because we're not working at our own salvation or call or things we want. We envy or get jealous, and being locked into that, never make gains in our own lives and that lack is a potential harvest eaten up because it never comes into existance.
Eccl 9:6 KJV "Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun."
Why? Because of envy and hatred and love of others things or whatever, they never developed anything in their own lives. What this all boils down to is a self-centeredness wrapped in a wrapper that has written on it, "I deserve anything I want because I am me."
Envy says, "Give me what I want, and don't make me do anything for it." What envy is is a judgement, and a judgement on God for allowing that person to have what they have, be it spiritual realities or temporal goods.
The writer of Proverbs says envy will put spiritual rottenness in your bones, and ruin you spiritually:
Prov 14:30 KJV "A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones."
Listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:
Mat 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Envy, rottenness in their bones. Envy kills and fosters retaliation for no just reason. It breeds murder and death, be it physical or spiritual. Envy caused the Jewish authorities to do just that to Jesus. Envy was the power behind what they did. They envied because the crowds sought Him out and not them. They envied because the crowds followed Him. They flattered themselves that they could get rid of Him:
Envy - a very deadly sin. Envy (sometimes translated jealousy by modern translations) was the very motive leading to the arrest of Jesus:
Mat 27:18 KJV "For he knew that for envy they had delivered him."
The scribes and pharisees had a rottennes in their bones and Jesus nailed it as envy. Envy drove the chief priests to carry out a plot to kill Jesus. They tried everything they could to silence Him and to trap Him, and when that didn't work, their envying Him drove them to get rid of Him. They envied Him, and they delivered Him up, not only to death, but to their own pride and self-importance and the need to be in charge, the need to have the center stage.
Envy - rottenness in the bones. Listen to these two sets of verses. Here is a good example of God working all things to the good for those who love Him:
Rom 10:19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding."
Out of ENVY, out of the rottenness of their bones, they killed Jesus and it meant salvation to us, the Gentiles. Now, God is playing on that ENVY through the Gentiles to bring them back again to Himself. The envy is still in their bones. Listen: God is using the envy in their bones to bring them back and guess what is going to happen to those bones that come back to Him? Listen:
Ezek 37:1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. 4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. 9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. 11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
Envy dries up the bones. But the envy in the bones of Israel that was the driving force to crucify Christ will be used by God to bring them back at the proper time.
As They Did Unto Him
Envy was also the driving force behind opposition to the gospel and the disciples after the resurrection:
Acts 13:45 KJV "But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming."
I have seen much of this spiritual envy over years. I remember in the community 25 years ago, we were forming households and I knew I was supposed to be the head of a household discussion group. Well, a fellow named Mike was given the assignment of the household we were in, and I complained to God about it. I was envious in that situation and but also felt justified in my desires because I knew I belonged in that position. The Lord said to just wait, that He knew all about it, and within two weeks something happened and I had to take over the group. I was envious of something that I knew was mine. It was an odd situation, and an odd example of envy, but it was God who resolved it because I entrusted it to Him.
A Final Word
Timothy really sums up almost everything about envy:
1 Tim 6:4 KJV "He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,"
So, we need to be on guard against envy. If you want something in the material world, work hard for it. If you want God to use you in a powerful way, don't look for a free ride. Pick up the cross, and there will be plenty of pharisees around to envy you and malign you and want to hurt you and get rid of you. But God will never leave you nor forsake you. Be warned: envy is one of the deadliest of sins. We will close with these scriptures:
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
NEXT TALK: LUST