Today, we have two verses of the day: Proverbs 24:1-2. They say, “Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.” The idea is this: sometimes we find ourselves comparing ourselves to other people. I think that’s the start of envy, when we look at other people.
Andy Stanley once said, “There is no win in comparison.” You will never win by comparing yourself to other people. Sometimes we like to compare ourselves to people who we think are a little bit lesser than we are. Or we may compare ourselves to people who have what we want, or who we think are better off than we are. Either way, we are going to lose because we don’t know the whole story. We can’t pick and choose the good without the bad.
Instead, we should stay focused on ourselves, and on God. When we focus on others, or on what we don’t have, we become envious. I looked up the word envy on Google and it said, “a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or even their luck.” It’s important that we don’t fall into this trap.
Unfortunately, I think social media often leads us to fall into this trap. We may start by just looking, but we begin to browse longer and longer, and somehow everybody else’s life starts to seem better. But that’s not true. We tell false narratives on our social media accounts, because they aren’t telling the whole story.
Have you ever found yourself growing envious of someone you know isn’t doing the right thing, because you want what they have? I know I have. But our verses today tell us not to envy these evil people. Why? Because “their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.” I know this can be tough. But what do you really want in life? Do you want the temporary satisfaction gained by doing the wrong thing? Or do you want lasting peace and satisfaction from walking with the LORD in the way of wisdom?
These verses make me think of one of my favorite Psalms: Psalm 73. I love it because Asaph tells a story here. He starts off following God, but he gets distracted and loses his focus. Let’s read it:
Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
I love that the Bible doesn’t hide from us that these people weren’t perfect. They were broken people, just like you and me. We can relate to them.
4 For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
5 They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
7 Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
8 They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
9 They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
10 Therefore his people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them.
He begins to tell himself a false narrative, that all these people are doing well, and he became envious of evil people. But he could only see the outside.
Let’s skip down:
16 But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
20 Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
21 When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength[b] of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.
He began to see things clearly. He had to understand who and where he really was. He knew he got off track, but he got back on track. Maybe you need to do this, too. Find sanctuary with God. Maybe that means going to church, maybe it means praying. If you don’t feel like praying, tell that to God. Be vulnerable and transparent with the Creator of the universe, because he knows it all anyway.
Let’s read our verse one more time – Proverbs 24:1-2. “Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.”
Get wisdom, walk with the LORD, and don’t be envious of others. Remember: “There’s no win in comparison.”
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