Proverbs 23:1-18 – Don’t Envy

Read Proverbs 23:1-18

There are some interesting truths shared in today’s reading. I’m sure I’m missing some of the intended meanings due to cultural differences and such. What spoke to me most is the counsel on envy in verse 17, with the promise in verse 18. “Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the Lord. You will be rewarded for this; your hope will not be disappointed.”

How many times have you wished for something your neighbor had? One of my childhood memories is longing for a horse of my own when the neighbor girl across the street got hers. She would ride this majestic creature from the pasture where she kept him into our suburban neighborhood. She would brush him and give him a bath… right there in her driveway! Of course, I would be glued to the window watching her every move, wondering when my day would come to have a horse of my own. That is still a bucket list item for me – to have a horse of my own.

I realize the verse says we’re not to envy “sinners,” but we are all sinners. Do you think Solomon meant we shouldn’t envy the sinful behaviors of others? Or was it to not envy the things they obtained through their sinfulness? You’ve probably heard the saying, “I’m living vicariously through you” when we look at the life someone is living and wish it was ours. I’ve had people say that to me, wishing they lived in Mexico. But that isn’t a sinful “behavior.” It is someone being a bit envious of living somewhere that feels like paradise out of the snow and ice!

The bottom line is we shouldn’t envy what others have or do. Even two of the commandments warn us against coveting. We should be satisfied with what we have. But we do get caught up in wanting what we don’t have, don’t we? Why aren’t we content with what we have? Shouldn’t we instead use our energy to try and figure out a way to have what we want? It’s more a matter of the heart and our motivation. Why do we want it? Is it only because someone else has it? God knows our heart.

The verse says we should fear the Lord. God wants for us to have good things. He will provide for us when we ask. Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” The promise in verse 18 tells us our hope will not be disappointed when we stay focused on God. When we are faithful to God, fearing him, seeking him, he will reward us with what he knows is best for us. We need to put our trust in God. Period.

Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for your provisions in my life. I know you have my best intentions in mind. Forgive me when I have envy in my heart for something I am not ready for. Increase in me the gratitude for what I do have. I do long to grow closer to you and be your instrument in this world. Use me to reach those who are far from you. May my message bring them back to a living relationship with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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