The Cure for Envy
Category : General
Proverbs 23: 17 (KJV)
17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
What is the prosperous sinner the better for his prosperity when judgment overtakes him? As for the godly man, his end is peace and blessedness, and none can rob him of his joy; wherefore, let him forego envy, and be filled with sweet content. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The text is a persuasive to contentment and satisfaction with Divine providence, which permits wicked men to flourish for a while, enforced with this reason, that there is a reward laid up for all such as trust in God and meekly submit to His will. The Lord is here addressing himself to a soul laboring under temptation, and passing through peculiar exercises; and this is the exhortation that he gives it—”Be in the fear of the Lord all the day long;” watching his hand, submitting to his will, committing everything into his care and keeping; not hardening your heart against him, but looking up to him, and worshiping him with godly fear; “there is surely a future hope for you.”
Their present prosperity and happiness, the pleasure, profit, and honor, they seem to enjoy; all which is but a shadow, fading had temporary; and yet good men are apt to envy it in their hearts, if they do not express it with their lips; and are ready to murmur and think it hard that they should be in straitened circumstances while the wicked are in flourishing ones; and inwardly fret and are uneasy at it, which they should not, Psalm 37:1; or do not “emulate” or “imitate” them, or do as they do, thinking thereby to enjoy the same prosperity and happiness; choose not their ways, nor desire to be with them, to have their company, or be ranked among them, Proverbs 3:31.
The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the Divine presence, worshiping God and communing with Him all the day long, however long the day may seem. True religion lifts the soul into a higher region, where the judgment becomes more clearer, and the desires are more elevated. The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet. The fear of God casts out the envy of men. The death-blow of envy is a calm consideration of the future. The wealth and glory of the ungodly are a vain show. This pompous appearance flashes out for an hour, and then is extinguished.
We may be tempted, exercised, and surrounded with difficulties, and see no outlet; but “there is surely a future hope for you;” and, when the end comes, it will make all plain and clear. To sit still is the hardest thing a man can do. To lie passive at God’s footstool when all things seem to be against us; to have a rough path to walk in, to be surrounded with difficulties, and yet to be in the fear of the Lord all the day long, watching his hand, desiring to submit to his will, seeking only that wisdom which comes from above, and trusting that he will make the way straight; not putting our hand to the work, but leaving it all to the Lord—how strange, how mysterious a path!
And yet it is the only one that brings solid peace to a Christian; “there is surely a future hope for you.” Whatever sorrows and troubles a man may have to wade through, there will surely be an end of them. If we try to get ourselves out of perplexities, we are like a person trying to unravel a tangled skein of silk by pulling it forcibly; the more it is pulled, the more entangled it gets, and the faster the knots become. So if we are plunged into any trial, providential or spiritual, and we attempt to extricate ourselves by main force, by kicking and rebelling, we only get more entangled.
We need to let the fear of God be always before our eyes and in our heart; be continually in the exercise of fear, which is attended with faith and trust in the Lord; with love and affection to him, and joy and delight in him; be constantly employed in the duties of religion, private and public, which the fear of God includes; and this will be a preservative from envying, murmuring, and fretting at the outward happiness of wicked men; and from joining with them in their evil ways.
Have a Great and God filled Day