30 A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones. (Proverbs 14:30)
34 For jealousy is a husband's fury; Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. (Proverbs 6:34)
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; (23:17)25 The desire of the lazy man kills him, For his hands refuse to labor. 26 He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare. (21:25 - 26)
1 Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them; 2 For their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of troublemaking. (24:1 - 2)
19 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the wicked; 20 For there will be no prospect for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out. (24:19 - 20)
16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, but he who hates covetousness will prolong his days. (28:16)
4 Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before envy? (27:4)
World's Wit and Wisdom
Everybody wants to be somebody:
Nobody wants to grow.
Johann von Goethe, 1749 - 1834
People hate those who make
them feel their own inferiority.
Lord Philip Chesterfield, 1694 - 1773
Biblical examples of envy
There are several examples in the Bible of envy polluting a person's life. Such thoughts have sometimes even led to people committing sins, some of which are grievous. For example, Cain's dislike (Genesis 4:1 - 8) of his brother Abel's success led to him becoming mankind's first murderer (see our articles entitled 'Why did God reject Cain?" and "What is the mark of Cain?"). The sons of Jacob so despised their brother Joseph's favored relationship with their father that they first wanted to murder him but then decided to SELL him into slavery (Genesis 37:4 - 28).
Moses' sister Miriam and Aaron his brother became envious of his position and began to talk against him. God heard what they said and struck Miriam with leprosy for seven days (Numbers 12:1 - 10). Korah, Dathan, and Abiram thought they should be considered leaders on the level with Moses and Aaron. Their rebellion brought the wrath of God directly on them and their families when he caused the earth to open up and swallow them alive (Numbers 16).
King Saul, upon hearing the people of Israel praise David's battlefield successes far more than his, became angry and envious of him. God soon took his Spirit from him and Saul wasted many years of his rule chasing and trying to kill the future king (1Samuel 18:8-9, 29, 20:31). Haman, the prime minister of Persia, hated Mordecai, a Jewish official in the royal court, because he would not bow before him as if he were a god (Esther 3:1 - 2). His bitterness led him to an attempt to trick the king into having Mordecai hung on gallows that he, Haman, built. His plans, however, backfired and he was made to hang instead of his enemy (see our "Study on the Book of Esther" for more information on this fascination story).
In the New Testament, envy drove Jewish leaders who wanted the same attention and popularity as Jesus to arrest him and turn him over to Pontius Pilate for the death penalty (Matthew 27:18, John 11:47, Mark 15:10). Jews, who saw the crowds attracted to the preaching of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas, not only spoke against them and the gospel, they also blasphemed (Acts 13:45, 17:5).