James 3:14-16, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, and demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”
The Bible, God’s breathed Word, is a guide in all areas of life, especially to those who have been born-again into the Family of God, through His spotless Lamb, Jesus Christ. The precious and priceless Word of God is powerful and can change the hearts of those that seek wisdom and discernment. Envy and jealousy are a struggle for many people (including believers in Christ) as they look to what others have especially in the materialistic world in which we live. The definition of envy is a feeling of discontent, resentment and jealousy aroused by and in conjunction with a desire for the possessions or qualities of another. My brethren, the Scriptures have much to say about envy as stated in Proverbs 14:30, “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones”
Other verses would be 1 Peter 2:1-2, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect so salvation”; Titus 3:3, “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another”; Romans 1:29, “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips” and Mark 7:20-23, “He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
In Galatians 5:19-21, the apostle Paul ranked envy with the sins of adultery, murder, and drunkenness. This may surprise us until we consider the destructive power of this sinful attitude. It was envy that drove Joseph’s brothers to sell him into Egypt (Acts 7:9). Envy fueled Paul’s opponents in Thessalonica to start a riot to thwart the gospel (17:5). Envy motivated the chief priests to hand over Jesus to be crucified (Mark 15:10). Even when it doesn’t lead to such cruel actions, envy takes the place of love and hurts relationships (1 Corinthians 13:4).
I will close with a legend about a Burmese potter who had become envious of the prosperity of a washerman (a laundryman or cleaner). Determined to put this man out of business, the potter convinced the king to issue an order requiring the man to wash one of the emperor’s black elephants and make it white. The washerman replied that according to the rules of his vocation he would need a vessel large enough to hold the elephant, whereupon the king commanded the potter to provide one. So the potter constructed a giant bowl and had it carefully delivered to the washerman. But when the elephant stepped into it, it crumbles to pieces beneath the weight of the enormous beast. Many more vessels were made by the potter; however, each was crushed in the same way. Eventually it was the potter who was put out of business by the very scheme he had devised to ruin the man he envied.
The Old Testament word for envy means “to burn, or to inflame.” That’s an appropriate description of what goes on inside an envious person’s heart. At first those feelings seem harmless enough, but as they continue to smolder they eventually create a fire that destroys the envious person. My brethren always be mindful that envy can ruin a life, so we must never take it lightly!
Envy is as cruel as death
And spawns a fearful brood;
It sets on fire the hearts of men
And leads to actions rude. H.G.B.
As a moth destroys a garment, so envy destroys a person.