Remember these words: “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.”
The temptation to be jealous and envious of those who have more or better things than we do can become a distraction to those who struggle to live a righteous life. The teaching that is found in this verse has been introduced earlier in the Bible. It is not new and different. Rather, there is a preview of it in the Psalms: “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong”? (to gain the treasures and pleasures of this world). And again, “Trust in the Lord and do good, delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (if they are consistent with His character.) First, Scripture teaches us to fear God and see what happens.
Although not specifically stated in this proverb, we must never forget the fact that whatever the ungodly have, and the things they possess, are temporary. We have been conditioned to believe that the “things of this world” will bring happiness and hope, joy and satisfaction, pleasure and success, strength and security. But do they?
“Envy” is an interesting Hebrew word. It contains the idea that being envious will force us into action, to do more and work harder. However, that can be good. One can be envious of the sinful or the righteous. The choice is ours! And, both have different outcomes.
One translator provides an interesting interpretation: “Do not sinfully envy the temporal and momentary benefits that the sinful seem to enjoy, instead, set your heart upon zealously possessing the fear of the Lord.”
If we are always zealous in our fear of the Lord and “set our hearts on things above, not on the things of this world” and “give the battle to the Lord,” there can be little doubt about the outcome. The key is to “set” and “give” to the Lord.
Prayer: We admit, Father, that it is easy to be consumed with envy that will destroy us. We ask Your Spirit to guide us into paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 23:17