Alexander Cruden says of “envy”: “discontent at the excellence or good fortune of another. Frequently in the Bible with the distinct idea of malice or spite. The revisions often replace it with jealously.” Cruden’s Complete Concordance. Envy is a feeling of ill-will or discontent or resentment because of another’s power or promotion or position. It is one of the vilest emotions which can ever rise in the hearts of men. It is committed by the worst and by those who are religious; usually the one guilty of this sin can rationalize it away in his own mind. Let’s look at some scriptural references.
Cain arose and killed Abel because of envy. Genesis 4:3-8. Envy is murder in embryo, murder just waiting to happen. James wrote of envy, “Where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” James 3:16. One of the evil works that is born out of envy is hatred, and John warns, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” I John 3:15.
Because of envy, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Genesis 37:11-28. Haman, because of envy, ordered a gallows to be prepared for Mordecai. Esther 5:13, & chapter 6. Because of envy, the princes and presidents set a trap for Daniel causing him to be thrown into the lion’s den. Daniel 6:1-18. Because of envy, the eldest son resented the return of his brother and the loving reception given him by their father. Luke 15:25-30. Because of envy, the Jewish leadership delivered the sinless Jesus up to be crucified. Matthew 27:17-18.
Today’s world is no better. Because of envy, a brother often will blacken the name of another brother; he accomplishes this through lying, gossip, whispering, slander and evil speaking. Remember James warns against this when he writes, “Speak not evil one of another, brethren.” James 4:16. He also warn us to “Grudge not one against another, brethren.” James 5:9. When an envious, vicious man sees that he cannot equal a brother in virtue or in honor, he often resorts to belittling or defaming or to downgrading. In some sort of evil-thinking, the brother of low estate, believes that he is made better if he can bring his brother down to his level.
Envy is always destructive, even to the one guilty of it. Paul warns that we reap what we sow in Gal. 6:7, and Hosea indicates that we reap what we sow in quality, but he also indicates that we reap more than we sow in quantity. “He that sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind.” Hosea 8:7. The man who inflicts injury, suffers injury. An envious Cain became a fugitive with fear in his heart. Genesis 4:11-14. The brothers, who were cruel to Joseph, came to shame and humiliation. Gen. 42-45. The heartless Haman was the one who was hung on the gallows prepared for Mordecai. Esther 7:10. The jealous leaders who had Daniel cast into the lion’s den, were themselves destroyed by the vicious beasts. Dan. 6:24. The Jewish rulers, who through envy delivered the innocent Jesus up to be crucified, brought a curse and denunciation upon their own heads. Acts 2:22f. And today, when one, due to envy, becomes a false accuser, he loses the respect of his fellow Christians and soon finds himself isolated from the righteous.
Listen to more testimony from God’sWord: “For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.” Job 5:2. “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” Prov. 14:30. “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who can stand before envy?” Prov. 27:4. Envy is listed as one of the “lusts of the flesh” in Gal. 5:21, and it will keep us out of heaven. May God help all of us to rid our hearts of this vicious and destructive sin!