Envy in Proverbs

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There are several examples in the Bible of envy polluting a person's life. Such thoughts and emotions have sometimes led to people committing sometimes grievous sins that affect others.

For example, Cain's envy (Genesis 4:1 - 8) of his brother Abel's success led to him becoming mankind's first murderer (see our article on 'Why did God reject Cain?'). The sons of Jacob felt so much envy, and 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)!

Miriam and Aaron, the sister and brother of Moses, became so filled with envy toward his importance in Israel that they began to talk against him. God heard what they said and struck Miriam with leprosy for seven days (Numbers 12:1 - 10).

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Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were envious of being 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 (see Numbers 16).

The deadly sin of envy
The deadly sin of envy
Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1480

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).

Do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways; For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord . . . (Proverbs 3:31 - 32).

And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 4:4).

A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones (Proverbs 14:30).

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; (Proverbs 23:17).

For jealousy is a husband's fury; Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance (Proverbs 6:34).

Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble (Proverbs 24:1 - 2).

Then I observed that the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy! But this, too, is foolishness, chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 4:4).

World's Wit and Wisdom
Nothing sharpens
sight like envy.
Thomas Fuller, 1654 - 1734

People hate those who
make them feel their
own inferiority.
Lord Philip Chesterfield, 1694 - 1773

Don't be agitated by evildoers, and don’t envy the wicked. For the evil have no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out (Proverbs 24:19 - 20).

A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, but he who hates covetousness will prolong his days (Proverbs 28:16).

Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before envy? (Proverbs 27:4).

Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:6).

Next Topic
Proverbs on Fear of the Lord

Additional Study Materials
How to become more like Jesus!
Is it good to be greedy?
Is envy a deadly sins?
Can plants or animals sin?

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