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Who is Able to Stand Before Envy?

November 2, 2006

Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? Proverbs 27:4

A sound heart is the life of the flesh; but envy the rottenness of the bones. Proverbs 14:30

For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one. Job 5:2

charity envieth not…1 Corinthians 13:4

For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. Matthew 27:18

The Bible is rife with admonitions against envy; only a very few are cited above. I can’t help but think God wants to call our attention to the sin of envy that festers in the hearts of all of us. I believe it will be the last of our remaining sin to be purged at glory. I have been reflecting on envy, as I have had the pain of seeing one of my friends as the object of an envy-driven campaign to harm her reputation and work.Envy is such an ugly sin.Envy likely motivated the first murder, committed by the first person born after the Fall. And Matthew and Mark tell us envy motivated the crucifixion of the Lord.

Even Pontius Pilate knew envy when he saw it and tried to wash his hands of its fruits. But he was more a crowd pleaser than a defender of innocent blood. Envy is transparent but not hard to get away with, because sin, like misery, loves company.

Envy underlies the Tenth Commandment; it is the sin from which all others ultimately stem. I think that means, if we say we don’t envy, we say we don’t sin. We know what that makes us.

Ultimately, lawless man envies the power of God. He envies the power of God to create and destroy. He envies any power over himself at all. Just being at God’s mercy for birth and death drives some people nuts.

When man doesn’t get the power he wants, he is quite capable of settling for much less. He is capable of incredible pettiness to conceal the vastness of his lust.

I have yet to meet the perfectly contented person who is without lust and envy. I’m pretty certain only one such person has ever walked the face of the earth. He wasn’t treated well.

I despise and abhor the sin of envy in myself; that doesn’t make me gentle about it in others. When it causes harm to people I love, I have very ungentle thoughts.

Since envy is present in every fallen soul, it always triggers remorse within us when we see it in action. That is, of course, if we are subject to remorse. Remorsefulness is a gracious blessing. We may not murder and steal every day, but we have envy pangs every day. And envy is the root of murder and theft. It hurts to think about envy. It hurts to write about it.

But God always gives us a way out; at least he does for those on whom he has mercy. His Word comforts, his people console each other. And we have that gracious remorsefulness and the heart to forebear the inevitable assaults of the flesh. We are told to “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Only to the Church is this exercise in overcoming sin given. The rest of the world is perishing. We see it happening, every day. People are spending their lives ending their lives, in misery and without hope.

And so envy might be used of God to remind us of the reason for our hope. He has given us remorse, he has given us mercy, he has saved us from perishing in our sin. Even the ugly sin of envy.

Posted by Mrs. B at 6:29 AM

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