You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Keeping up with the Joneses.” It captures the problem that Solomon identified in the book of Ecclesiastes, thousands of years before the American dream was a thing to aspire to: “And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another” (Eccl. 4:4). Today’s proverb zeros in on what envy can do to our hearts. Maybe you’ve experienced envy while on social media. There you see your “friends” experiencing success.
Maybe one friend was promoted, another published a book, and yet another is at a beach resort. Rather than rejoice with others, it is easy to allow envy to rot our bones. The image is graphic. To rot is to waste away, to eat away at something. Envy destroys us.
The Bible has many warnings about envy. “Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple” (Job 5:2). And in the New Testament envy is listed among other sins (Gal. 5:21, 26; 1 Tim. 6:4; James 3:6; 1 Peter 2:1). We also learn that envy is the opposite of love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Cor. 13:4).
Even if we deleted our social media accounts so we couldn’t see the joys and accomplishments of our friends, we might still struggle with envy. It is helpful to remind ourselves that God has called us to something better. Rather than feeling bitter and envious about what He has given others, we are to have a spirit of thankfulness for what we have been given. If you struggle with this sin, here are two things to try: 1) Thank God regularly for the good things He’s given you; and 2) Rejoice in the gifts He has given your friends.
>> Envy is destructive. It can wreck our relationships and blocks us from having a proper relationship with God. We are called not to envy, but to love one another.
Forgive us for the ingratitude and lack of trust in which our envy is rooted. We believe that You are good and wise, and therefore we trust You and thank You for what You give and what You withhold.