Prohibition & Warning Against Envy Daily Devotion

Scripture: Psalms 37:1-7

There are so many opportunities for envy. It’s a universal threat to our joy and to our concern for other people. So what I want to do is observe a text where it is prohibited in Scripture, look at some consequences of giving in to it, and then talk about how to fight it. And considering our time, I’m just going to assume almost these first two.

Namely, I assume that you agree with me that the bible says, Don’t be envious. Can we just start with that one? I have four texts here. Psalm 37:1, Proverbs 23:17, Galatians 5:26, I Peter 2:1. All of them say, Don’t be envious. So it’s not biblical to be envious. It is against the will of God for you to give into envy.

And then we could talk about warnings. Let’s look at one passage here. Galatians 5:21 is in the passage about the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit, and one of the works of the flesh is envy.

Galatians 5:19 – “Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy”—which, by the way, I believe is a subspecies of envy.

I tried to think, Should I preach a sermon on jealousy? I was thinking this last August. And as I thought and thought I concluded that jealousy is a species of envy. What I mean is that jealousy is a kind of envy that is directed toward another person when they are getting affection that you wish you had. You’re jealous of another person when they get affection from somebody that you think should be coming to you.

Now that can be a very healthy thing. God is jealous over love that should be coming to him. And a husband or a wife should rightly be jealous over a bad relationship that they see developing between their spouse and another person. But there is also an unhealthy jealousy. The reason I don’t focus on it is because I think that everything I will say about envy applies to jealousy as well, because it’s a sub-category under envy.

“Anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy“—there it is at the beginning of verse 21—”drunkenness, carousing and the like. I warn you as I warned you before that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

So there’s the warning. This is real serious business. Everything I’m preaching on in these fall sermons is serious business. In other words, if you give reign to this unbelieving state of envy it could so take over your life as to cause you to make shipwreck of faith and do you in the end.

John Piper

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