There are times when we look at other people’s lives and we are tempted to envy them. The Psalmist tells us as much in verses two and three when he states that he “almost stumbles” because “I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Why is envy a sin, and why is it so dangerous? There are many reasons, but I would like to share three biblical ones with you.
Reason one is that we envy people because we think they don’t deserve something but that we do. Envy is dangerous because it puts us in the judgment seat that only God can rightly occupy. Think about this…when I envy someone because of something they have received (finances, recognition), I am making the evaluation that they are not good enough, but I am. Remember how the disciples argued among themselves about who was the greatest? Who would have the seat of honor on the right and left of Jesus? Each of the disciples believed that somehow they had done more than the others, and for anyone to receive honor but them was a horrible mistake. We are not meant to be in the judgment seat of what people should or should not get. That seat is reserved only for God. When we try to sit in that seat, it is idolatry and blasphemy.
Reason two is that envy is destructive because we believe its lie that the “great reward” is found here on this earth. When we start to believe that lie, we forget that we were not made for the temporal but for eternity. Why should it matter if someone gets the promotion over me? Why should it matter that someone has gained financially when I haven’t? Why should it matter that someone has a bigger and better house than me? When we focus back on who God is, His faithfulness, His love for us, His promise to be our Provider for all of our needs, we are able to remember that the best is yet to come for me. Why do I want to trade a few years of things on this earth for that which will never fade or end? Now the question might be, but what about injustices that are done to others? The Bible clearly commands that we seek justice for people, but justice is not personal. It is a standard that everyone is equal and has worth. Justice is concerned with everyone being treated fairly. Envy is concerned solely with me.
Reason three is that we need to remember that God does not think or act like we think or act. We want good people to get blessings and bad people to be punished. There is only one problem with that…the Bible tells us that no one is good. If we are going to apply that standard to everyone equally, God should wipe us all out immediately. But the Bible gives us insight into God’s heart. Why does He allow some to prosper that shouldn’t? Why do some people seem to be blessed even though they seem to mock God with their lives? Because God loves and is patient with people. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” No one gets away with anything. God will judge everyone in the end. However, this verse reminds us that He is patient and that He may be allowing the person to receive what seems like “blessings,” to experience just how worthless and unfulfilling these things are, which can cause them to despair and turn to God. If you are envying someone, it means you care more about your earthly life than you care about what God is doing in their lives. You care more about the temporal instead of the eternal. Are you envious of others right now, or are you fulfilled and satisfied in Jesus? Why don’t you repent of your envy and turn to Christ to be your fulfillment right now? Turn your eyes upon Him! HE is your very great reward!