Rarely is envy recognized and correctly identified in our hearts. This green-eyed monster is a blood-thirsty beast. Cain killed Abel because of envy. King Saul relentlessly hunted David because of envy. The Jewish rulers handed Jesus over to Pilate because of envy.
The composer Asaph almost fell victim to this horrific spiritual malady. “Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:1-3).
In verses 4-14 Asaph describes the lure that Satan used to introduce the poison of envy into his pure heart. It is written: “For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men. Therefore, pride serves as their necklace; violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish. They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walks through the earth. Therefore, his people return here, and waters of a full cup are drained by them. And they say, ‘How does God know?’ and, ‘Is there knowledge in the Most High?’ Behold, these are the ungodly who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Surely, I have cleansed my heart in vain and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued and chastened every morning.”
It was an intense and titanic battle that Asaph fought with this horrible heart disease. Thankfully, Asaph found the divine antidote and took it to heart. “If I had said, ‘I will speak thus.’ Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” (vv. 15-17).
Envy’s success is predicated upon shortsightedness, of only seeing the here and now. While he lived the mega-rich man of Luke 16 was envied. Once he died, all envying ended. What sane person envies a man in Hades with a haunting memory, an unquenchable thirst, and searing, unending torment?
Be not deceived by envy. God is not mocked. Whatever a wicked man sows that he will also reap. Don’t slip on the banana peel of envying the wicked. Go to the sanctuary of God’s word and understand clearly the end of all wickedness.
Don’t be a victim of envy. Be a victor.
Be like Asaph.