There is much wisdom to be gleaned in Proverbs 23, and for me the warning against envy in verses 17-18 laid a conviction on my heart. “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the Lord always. Surely there is a future.”
In the world we live today wealth is celebrated above all else. Our televisions, magazines, and internet are all inundated with images and stories of the rich and famous. We see their seemingly perfect lives and can’t help thinking that they have it all. Whether it’s the latest reality star, a favorite sports figure, or even the family down the street, our human nature makes us prone to envy what others have. We can easily buy into Satan’s lie that God is holding out on us, and that if we only had what they had our lives would be easier and we’d be happier. This is the same lie Satan told Eve in the garden of Eden. Instead of delighting in thankfulness with all that God had given her, Eve instead focused on what she thought God was withholding from her. And just like Eve, when we focus on things we don’t have, it’s as if we are telling God that all that He has given us is not good enough.
No matter how much it may appear that someone’s life is full of prosperity, it means nothing if they have not received the free gift of pardon that comes with accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Material things may fill their lives but can never fill their hearts, nor provide the peace of resting in the eternal promises of Jesus. The Bible tells us that they had better enjoy their prosperity while they can because for them that will be their only reward. “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.” (Luke 6:24)
To ward off the sin of envy, we must keep our eyes on the Lord and our feet on the path of righteousness. We put our unshakeable hope in Jesus, and in return Jesus has promised a glorious future in which we will spend eternity with Him. Jesus tells His Disciples in John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” I can think of nothing more exciting then living in the mansion Jesus prepared just for me, and worshipping Him forever.
So the next time I see my favorite actress with the perfect hair or designer outfit and I feel that all too familiar twinge of envy, I’m going to stop in that moment and say thank you to my Father in Heaven for all He blesses me each day when I know I am worthy of nothing. I will ask for the strength and wisdom to submit to His will, to commit everything I have and everything I am into His care and keeping, and to worship Him with godly fear.