Vol. 11 No. 8 August 2009
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Socrates once said, “Envy is the daughter of pride, the author of murder, and revealer of secret sedition, the perpetual tormentor of virtue. Envy is the filthy slime of the soul; a venom, a poison which consumeth the flesh and drieth up the bones.” How true! However, interestingly indeed it is that before Socrates made this true observation, God inspired Solomon to pen, “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). Most Bible students could attest to the fact that God hates envy and that envy causes problems for all parties involved. However, those same Bible students have never “looked into the perfect law of liberty” (cf. James 1:25) and seen envy in their own lives. Oh, we know what envy looks like in others, but are usually oblivious to it when it rears its ugly head in us. We need to seriously and openly study the sin of envy.
First, ENVY’S DEFINITION.Envy is defined as “to see against, that is to look with enmity; To feel uneasiness, mortification or discontent, at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness enjoyed by another; to repine at another’s prosperity; to fret or grieve one’s self at the real or supposed superiority of another” (Webster E-sword). That definition certainly does not apply to anyone of us right? Well, let’s look a little closer. Do you feel uncomfortable when another’s talents or blessings are brought to light in front of you? If someone is praised in your presence, do you feel the need to tell of the “great” things you have done and can do? Be careful if such is the case, because the green-eyed monster may be rearing his ugly head in your life!
Secondly, ENVY’S DETECTION.Let’s examine envy even more closely. Inspiration clearly detects and identifies envy. Childless Rachel envied Leah for being able to give birth (cf. Genesis 30:1). Because Isaac had great amounts of flocks, herds, and servants, the Philistines envied him (cf. Genesis 26:14). Korah, Dathan and Abiram were envious that Moses was the leader of God’s people (cf. Numbers 16:1-3; Psalm 106:16). Cain slew his very own brother because of envy (cf. Genesis 4:4-8; 1 John 3:12). Joseph was sold into slavery by those of his own blood because of envy (cf. Genesis 37:11). The elder son in the parable of the “Prodigal Son” was envious of his younger brother (cf. Luke 15:30). Example after example, envy is detected and clearly seen throughout the pages of inspiration. Christians, be vigilant, be sober because envy may be the device that Satan chooses to use on you as well (2 Corinthians 2:11)!
Thirdly, ENVY’S DISASTER.Envy brings about terrible consequences in the lives of those who entertain it. (1) Envy robs us of our love for one another (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4). Since love envies not, when we are envious, love must be absent in our lives! How bitter our lives become without love’s presence! (2) Envy robs us of understanding and good works, thus creating confusion and turmoil (cf. James 3:16). (3) Envy robs us of heaven (cf. Romans 1:29, 32; Galatians 5:21). An envious person may hide that sin here on earth, but one day even secret transgressions will be made manifest (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Romans 2:16, et al). Envy robs mankind of all that is good and right in this life, and sadder still, envy will rob mankind of eternal life to come!
Examine your hearts Dear Readers and rid your lives of envy today! “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:13-14)!