Do Not Let Your Heart Envy Sinners

The following points have been taken from a class study of the book of Proverbs. Here are some verses that tell us not to envy sinners. Perhaps, due to present circumstances in our nation, this will have many helpful admonitions.

Proverbs 23:15-18
15 My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. 16 Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things. 17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. 18 For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

Develop Speech That Correctly Describes The Sinner

First, notice that Solomon asked his son to speak right things in verse 16. Why follow this request with the admonition to not envy sinners? Because he is striving to keep his son away from sinners’ influences — this will be effected by his own speech that correctly describes the sinner. Many times young adults, and older, will lie about the character of the sinner if they consider them a friend or have been having a good time with them. Parents learn early on if a teen wants to date someone they’ll often describe them as a “nice” person when they are not.
If you can say the wicked are so that helps to protect you from displays of hypocrisy. How did Paul protect himself in Gal. 2:11-21? He did what Barnabas and others failed to do thus saving himself from their hypocrisy. His rebuke displayed what love should be — without hypocrisy while abhorring what is evil (Rom. 12:9). This kind of understanding comes from one’s own study that produces a hatred of false ways (Ps. 119:97-104). This is loving the Lord — if you hate and despise false hood you will love His law (Ps. 119:63). When a brother or sister is concerned about one of my acquaintances and asks if they are worldly what am I required to say? (Eph. 4:25). If members will hate evil, love good, establish justice – perhaps God will be gracious to their church (cf. Amos 5:15).

If You Can’t Say The Wicked Are So, What Are Some Likely Problems?

Consider the following and think about other applications yourself as you do. Often a young woman who has a bad husband will not say so. She wants to be with him. There is the fear of losing “marriage” status and more. This can be reversed — consider the man with an evil wife who fails in the same way. We must not love family more than God (cf. Matt. 10:47; Lk. 14:26). Young adults and older see worldly “success” through eyes that desire: (a) recognition of being in company with someone considered important in various ways. It is easy to justify the wicked if I desire what they have — “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD” (Pr. 17:15); (b) desire wealth — this is the temptation of Prov. 1:13; ( c) desire opportunities to meet the opposite sex, to be around money, cars, recreational vehicles etc.; (d) desire a fun time — time not viewed by sinners as something that must have as a primary allotment serving God and worshipping collectively with a local church.

What Does “Envy” Say About The Heart?

To do so is to have a heart that is not right before God. Envy and fretting take away the fear of the Lord (Cf. Pr. 8:13). Wisdom can say evil is hated (Rom. 12:9). Ps. 73 is about this very thing. Why not use your Bible and read along and meditate upon this psalm? The one who wrote this had lost the purity of heart he praises (Ps. 73:1-2). He tells us what happened in Ps. 73:3 — he was envious of the “boasters” who depicted physical health and material prosperity that most did not have. He describes their prosperity in different ways:
1) 73:4 “4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.” The n.a.s.b. says “and their body is fat” – unlike many they are not as likely to die by starvation, disease and pestilence where poverty increases the likelihood of disease and death.
2) 73:5 They are not in trouble as other men. The prosperous wicked appear to escape the toils that come to the common man – efforts that wear down the body and the mind— no work, how to feed your family, debts piling up, knowing others who are in the same boat.
3) 73:5b “neither are they plagued like other men” — probably because of better living conditions.
4) 73:6 “6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.” What they escape produces pride not humility and benevolence. They commit violence because they have the power to do so.
5) 73:7 “7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.” The face as the index shows their lifestyle; their desire runs over good sense.
6) 73:8 “8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.” Their speech arranges and works cruelty and extortion. “Oppression:” ~ H6233 ?o^sheq o'-shek From H6231; injury, fraud, (subjectively) distress, (concretely) unjust gain: - cruelly, extortion, oppression, thing [deceitfully gotten].
7) 73:9 They speak blasphemies against God. Their tongue “parades”
through the earth as– they make a great display of all they have,
are, and intend to do to others.
8) 73:10-14 “12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. 13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.” His own evil thoughts are recorded here.
9) 73:15 If he’d spoken the thoughts publicly he’d have led others astray from trusting in God.
10) Ps. 73:16 “16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for
me;” This is the fretting over the wicked God condemns — “1 Fret not
thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the
workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
and wither as the green herb” (Ps. 37:1-2).
11) Ps. 73:17-20 “17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. 18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. 19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. 20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.” When close to accepting the wicked and his ways you understand through acceptable worship what their “end” is. You do not want to be there with them!
12) Ps. 73:21-24. Looking back he sees what he was before God. He did not stumble so as to fall away completely.
13) Ps. 73:25-28. He is just a man and realizes that God is all he needs on earth. He went from “fretting” to getting busy telling of God’s wonderful works!

Conclusion: Ps. 37:7-8 “7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil."

Don’t fret as it only leads to doing more evil!

By Bob Lovelace

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