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ENVY = Rotten Bones

Proverbs 14:30 -

A tranquil heart is the life of the flesh; But envy is the rottenness of the bones. (ASV)


Common today:

  1. Envy is everywhere we look.

  2. Poor envy the rich. Married envy the single. Singles envy the married. Clumsy envy the athlete. Normal envy the model. Movie goers envy the stars. Movie stars envy those with a private life. Those with no children envy those who have children.

  3. NOTE: Feelings are not right or wrong.

    1. Feelings are neutral. Having feelings is not the problem.

    2. How they are expressed or acted on is the real problem.

Definition of Envy:

  1. Dictionary - It is "a feeling of discontent or resentment for someone else’s possessions or advantages" (Webster’s Dictionary And Thesaurus, 1997).

  2. Bible -

    1. 1 Corinthians 13:4 – Love does not envy

    2. Proverbs 14:30 – Envy is a rottenness to the bones

    3. Envy is included in several lists of sins in the New Testament

  3. Shuck the corn – down to the cob

    1. Envy = I want what another has

    2. Jealousy = I protect and keep what I have from others who might want to get it

Old Testament examples of envy:

  1. Envy has been around for a long time. One does not have to read far in the Bible to come across instances of it.

  2. Cain envied his brother Abel.

  3. The same is true about Sarah envying Hagar when the latter was able to bear children, but Sarah could not (Genesis 16).

  4. The Philistines envied Isaac because of his great possessions (Genesis 26:14).

  5. Rachel envied her sister Leah because she was able to bear children when Rachel could not (Genesis 30:1).

  6. Then there is the well-known story of Joseph’s older brothers envying him because of the preferential treatment that their father gave him (Genesis 37:11).

  7. Death later struck the camp of Israel when Korah and others envied Moses and Aaron (Psalm 106:16; Numbers 16:1-3,31-35).

These Old Testament examples of envy remind us that:

  1. In many cases envy is over matters that pertain only to earthly, material affairs, and not to the spiritual;

  2. Envy often raises its ugly head to cause division in one’s own family;

  3. One can be despised and envied, even though he/she is not guilty of "rubbing it in" that he/she has something that others lack;

  4. Envy can even infect the hearts of those that serve Jehovah.

New Testament examples of envy:

  1. It was "for envy" that the Jewish leaders delivered Jesus to Pilate (Mark 15:10 ).

  2. Envy caused unbelieving Jews to oppose the preaching of the gospel and stir up the minds of people against the cause of Christ (Acts 13:45 ; 17:5).

  3. Sadly, envy also took its toll on the attitude of some of the first century Christians. The saints in Corinth were told, "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (1 Corinthians 3:3).

  4. A few years later while Paul was imprisoned in Rome , he wrote, "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife" (Philippians 1:15 ). How wonderful that men were preaching Christ (meaning to preach the gospel, Acts 8:4,5,25). How tragic that some did so with a heart filled with envy.

  5. Even today gospel preachers must be careful lest they fall into the trap of envying those evangelists that work with stronger churches, are paid more money, or are given more speaking invitations. Some earthly consequences of envy: What is often associated with envy in this life? To what does it lead? The Bible says, "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work" (James 3:16 ).

Violence is often the result of envy.

  1. Envy can produce such bitterness of spirit that a person might desire to do bodily harm to those whom he/she envies, even to the point of committing murder. Some of the Bible examples that we noted show this to be the case.

  2. Envy also causes barriers to be erected between people (sometimes unbeknown to some of the parties involved). It can happen when two sisters in the flesh are "after" the same man and he chooses one instead of the other. It can happen when three brothers in Christ are being considered as overseers of a congregation, and two are chosen while the third is "left out."

  3. Envy disrupts peace in society, peace in the home, and peace in the church of the living God.

  4. In some cases envy in the heart so dominates a person’s state of mind that he/she feels like it is impossible to function properly.

  5. People can continually dwell on the apparent blessings of others and be so distraught because they themselves don’t have such, that envy just "eats them up" (rottenness of the bones, Proverbs 14:30 ).

The eternal consequence of envy:

  1. Satan is most happy for people to be envious of one another. Do you know why? Two clear answers are found in Galatians chapter five.

  2. To envy others is a violation of God’s will. "Let us not be . . . envying one another" ( 5:26 ).

  3. Those involved in envyings (and refusing to repent of such) "shall not inherit the kingdom of God " ( 5:21 ). Satan knows that envy is a barrier to fellowship with God and faithful saints in this life, and that it will prevent a person from going to heaven. Sounds serious, does it not?

Avoiding and overcoming envy:

  1. What if I am right now struggling with envy in my heart?

  2. Is it possible for me to overcome it?

  3. In Titus 3:3 it is written that in the past some "were . . . living in envy," but according to verse five God later saved them. That means they must have given up their envy.

  4. "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, desire the sincere milk . . ." (1 Peter 2:1,2).

  5. If envy can be "layed aside," then it is possible to overcome it.

What can you and I do to help us avoid envy?

  1. We need to strive to heed God’s command, "Rejoice evermore" (1 Thessalonians 5:16 ). Determining to have a happy disposition can go a long way in preventing resentment of others.

  2. We need to thank God for what we have, rather than dwell on the thought that someone else might have it "better" in some aspect of life. The Lord tells His children, "In everything give thanks’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ) and, "Be ye thankful" Colossians 3:15 )

  3. Like Paul, we must strive to be content with what we have, ". . . for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (Philippians 4:11 ).

  4. We need to keep in mind that God tells us not to envy others (1 Peter 2:1). In the Old Testament era God plainly charged the Jews not to be envious of evil doers: "Let not thine heart envy sinners . . . Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them . . . neither be thou envious at the wicked" (Proverbs 23:17; 24:1,19).

  5. Surely the fact that envious people cannot inherit God’s kingdom (Galatians 5:21 ) ought to motivate us to hate and avoid envy.


  1. Envy can destroy one’s mental health

  2. It can destroy families

  3. It will destroy the harmony and unity of the church.

  4. If there are members of the church that have more material blessings or spiritual talents than we do, let us not envy them.

  5. Let us thank God for them and pray that they will use their blessings to His glory, even as we with thankful hearts do our best to use what He has put in our hands for His holy cause.


From an article by Roger Campbell


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