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Envy Makes The Bones Rot

Proverbs 14:30 “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”

This summer in the youth group, we have been picking a few different Proverbs to study on Wednesday nights. Tonight we will be looking at Proverbs 14:30 and discussing the sin of envy.

What is Envy?
Envy, jealousy, covetousness, and discontentment all begin with a root sin of selfish pride that makes me think that I deserve better than what I have. Envy is a desire or longing to have what someone else has that leads me to resent him. So it is the combination of both wanting what someone else has, and being upset that he has it.

As a child you see a friend who always seems to have the coolest stuff. He always has the newest video game system or coolest toys. Seeds of envy are sown, as you don’t understand why he should get to have all the good stuff when you don’t. And you begin to resent him, and refer to him as the spoiled rich kid.

When you reach middle school, your best friend starts to get popular, but you don’t. It doesn’t make any sense. You start to ask yourself, “Why does everyone like her so much more than they like me? Why does she get invited to do so much, and I never do?” Envy rises.

In high school you set up your social media accounts and begin to check it constantly. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. At first it was fun, but now it seems like you are upset most of the time that you look at them. All of your “so-called friends” are always doing fun things together, and you’re just stuck at home. Envy builds to the point that you start to hate them.

Then it seems like all your friends are dating, engaged, or already married. You want to be happy for them, but it’s hard when you don’t even see any possibility for a serious relationship with anyone right now. If you see one more picture of someone’s engagement ring, you might just go crazy.

We begin to think thoughts like these:
Why did he get that promotion instead of me?
Why do they have kids and we don’t?
I’m tired of hearing about how nice his life is when mine seems so bad.
I’m actually kind of glad that he lost his job. It’s about time he experienced real life.
Why do they get to have a perfect marriage?
Why are my kids so much work, and their kids are perfect?
Why does that church have so many people?
I’m glad they’re having problems.
I’m sick of hearing about how great their grandkids are. Mine live so far away that I almost never see them.
Why do I have to have financial stress when everyone else seems fine?

It feels so petty or childish, yet the temptation for envy is all around us. It doesn’t matter how young or old we are. I hate it when I feel this rising up in me. Proverbs 14:30 says that envy makes the bones rot. Envy robs us of joy, it leads to bitterness and depression and it tears us up inside. It’s a monster. It’s an enemy of joy.

Envy is a fruit of our flesh – Galatians 5:21
It is a characteristic of the ungodly – Romans 1:29
Envy led the religious leaders to deliver Jesus up to be crucified – Matthew 27:18
Envy comes from our sinful nature – Mark 7:22
As a holy people we are commanded to put away envy – 1 Peter 2:1

Fighting the temptation of envy

Remind yourself of your identity in Jesus
When we begin to envy, we start believing lies. We believe that someone else’s life is perfect when it really isn’t. We believe that we deserve a better life, family, friends, popularity, finances, etc. Peter tells us that we are to put away envy, but a few verses later he reminds us of our identity as the people of God.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:9-11 ESV)

Walk in the Spirit - Love
In Galatians 5, Paul describes two different types of fruit: the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. As I already mentioned above, envy is listed in the fruits of the flesh. It comes natural because of our sin. The command in Galatians 5 is to “walk by the Spirit.” We strive to let the words of Christ live in us, and pray that the Holy Spirit will be changing us and bearing fruit in us. The first of the fruits of the Spirit is love. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that “love does not envy.” When God gives us a love for others, we no longer envy them, we rejoice with them.

Let’s pray that the people of New Covenant Bible Church will remember our identity in Christ and be filled with a love for others. And let’s together abstain from the envious passions of our flesh which wage war against our souls.

Pastor Dan Leeper