We’re continuing our series in Proverbs with a look at the power of envy.
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
Envy has been defined as the art of counting another person’s blessings before your own. It’s a painful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, with a desire to possess the same advantage. Envy’s favorite three words are, “why not me?”
There’s something about envy that eats away at us from the inside out. Like rust on metal, it feeds on our life, even down to the bone. Envy narrows our vision until the one thing we can think about is the one thing we want but do not have.
Proverbs 14:30 gives us a vivid description of the effect of envy, but it doesn’t give us any help in avoiding it. There are other Proverbs that give some help regarding our hearts – teaching us to guard, apply and direct our hearts.
1. Guard your heart.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
2. Apply your heart.
Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.
3. Direct your heart.
Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.
When we watch out for the destructive presence of envy, remember the truth about envy from the Scriptures and work hard to direct our hearts away from envy we can avoid it’s corrosive power.
But what if these aren’t enough? What if our efforts to be better reveal that better is not in us? Putting Proverbs 14:30 in the overall context of the Bible provides better news for us. Let’s look at envy through the four stages of the Bible’s redemptive story-line.
- Creation tells us that we are made for a deeply satisfying participation in the life of the world.
- The Fall tells us that we turned in envy toward the one thing we did not participate in (the knowledge of good and evil).
- Through envy we were cut off from the life of the world, losing our hearts in the process.
- Redemption tells us that Jesus came to fulfill the promise of Ezekiel 36:26: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.
Restoration tells us that someday Christ will return and we will escape forever the evil of envy and live in perfect peace and rest.
Through the work of Christ in our world and his suffering on the Cross we are invited to return from the exile of our hearts to the one true source of life. When we trust in Christ we receive a new heart and a new power to resist envy and live in gratitude, praise and generosity.
Have you trusted in Christ like that?
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown