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Bible verses about Envy
(From Forerunner Commentary)

What is pride, the subtle yet powerful influence that most commentators believe is the father of all other sins? Hebrew, Greek, and English share the sense of the word's basic meaning: to be lifted up; to have an undue sense of one's importance or superiority.

Pride motivates us to exaggerate the value of our thoughts. It causes us to elevate our opinions and raises the importance of the fulfillment of what we perceive as our needs even above God's and, of course, decidedly higher than our fellowman's.

To be even-handed, the Bible shows that there is also a narrow, positive application of the word, and thus, depending on the context, it can be translated as "dignity" or "glory." For instance, Proverbs 16:31 reads, "The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness." This verse provides us with a slender sliver of insight that there is a natural pride to which God gives His approval. However, He qualifies it with "if it is found in the way of righteousness." Righteousness is the very thing pride sets itself to resist, making achieving a proper sense of pride more difficult. With God's own Word describing man at his best state being "altogether vanity" (Psalm 39:5 KJV), it certainly makes one wonder what we really have to be proud of!

In the context of the relationship between God and man, the overwhelming number of usages of the six Hebrew words and four Greek words translated as "pride" or its synonyms are negative and damning. These words are translated into such terms as "arrogance," "lifted up," "presumptuous," "loftiness," "proud," "proudly," "exalted," "overbearing," "condescending," "haughty," "superior," "disdainful," "scornful," "boasting," "self-esteem," and "contemptuous." Not all of these synonyms are in the King James or the New King James versions, but various modern translations use them depending on the context.

Pride carries, not only a lofty self-centeredness, but also a lively competitiveness against others that easily becomes a lustful, destroying enmity. It is highly critical, envious, and impatient, and it can be effortlessly stirred to anger, possessiveness, and suspicion of being taken advantage of. These characteristics are part of Satan's spirit. Each of them is destructive to loving family unity within the church.


 

Proverbs 15:30   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

For "makes the bones fat," the marginal reference reads, "makes the bones healthy."

"The light of the eyes" - One might think that the psalmist refers the light in one's own eyes, but in this case, it is not. It is the light in another's eyes. What would we consider to be the light in another person's eyes within the context of this verse? It has to be something that the person is joyous, happy, enthused, encouraged about. He loves whatever they heard, and when he brings this news, one can see the light in his eyes. What does it do to the observer? It picks him up, and it is good for a person to be in such a situation. This verse illustrates how an environment can produce positive effects.

We know from our own life experiences that this is so. If we step into a room charged with anger, depression, bitterness, envy, jealousy, prideful gossip, or suspicion, what happens to us? We sense it or discern it immediately. We may become defensive and want to leave just as fast as we can.

Conversely, instead of entering a room charged with a negative attitude, perhaps we encounter a positive one. It pulls us toward it and makes us want to join and enjoy the benefits of such a positive, uplifting, and good spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 4)


 

Ecclesiastes 4:4-7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The major reason for hard work among men is rivalry, competition. Someone is trying to outdo somebody else, and success breeds envy in neighbors. So a person engages in hard work to outclass somebody else.

Solomon, however, reaches the conclusion that rivalry does not produce lasting companionship. What do rivalry and competition produce? Enemies. He then concludes that contentment is two times better than the futility of pursuing after gain, that is, keeping up with the Joneses is a futile thing for a person to do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ezekiel 28:12-15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Consider what he was. He was the pinnacle of what God can create by fiat. That is what is suggested in the wording of this passage - he was the "seal of perfection," the most perfect creation, full of wisdom and beauty. He was made with precious stones as part of his body. Music - beautiful music - was intrinsic to him. He had an exalted position as the "covering cherub." He walked where God ruled, amidst the fiery stones. He had it all. It should have been enough for him, but he began to think, "I'm still one step down from the top. I really don't have it all. I want to rise to the next level of management. I want to be the CEO of the universe. I think I'll overthrow God."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Matthew 5:27-28   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God's Word obviously shows that not every desire is wrong (Proverbs 4:5-9). It is no sin to desire knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. God's law is "more to be desired . . . than much fine gold" (Psalm 19:10). It is not wrong to desire a godly spouse. Learning is valuable, and desiring godly character is good. Others have good qualities that we might well desire for ourselves.

The word translated "lust" in Matthew 5:28 means "to set one's heart upon." But when the object desired is legitimately beyond the reach of the admirer, when admiration becomes a desire to get, one breaks the commandment. Desire of and by itself is not wrong, but desiring what belongs to another to such a degree that it dominates our thinking and motivates us to take other unlawful actions to possess the object is sin. Such covetousness often suppresses the far more important things of God—and may even cause one to forget them altogether.

When desire builds to the breaking point, people will lie, steal, commit adultery, dishonor parents, and even murder to have what they lust after. We might also break the Sabbath and destroy our witness for God by serving our desires. Truly, Paul was correct in Colossians 3:5: "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Breaking the tenth commandment brings us full circle through the commandments and back to the first.

There is nothing wrong, however, in merely wanting something. It is only wrong to want something so badly that we would break every law to get it, be sick with unhappiness without it, or so occupied with it that we push God out of our lives. To desire a better life does not break the command; to enter the race to keep up with the Joneses does. To want our children to have it better than we did is natural; it becomes evil only when its purpose distorts the child's values.

To love pretty things is normal. God loves beauty and has created it. We can appreciate beautiful things, but to desire them to show them off and arouse envy in others is evil. It is not wrong to desire the needs of life and even its luxuries, but a feverish passion for more—and the action it incites—breaches God's law.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Matthew 15:17-20   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Because action follows thought, Jesus is against hatred, malice, and envy, all of which are included within "evil thoughts." Each is a form of the spirit of murder. His concern is not only with how we act but also why we act—not only in what we actually do but also in what we desire to do in our heart of hearts. To eat with unwashed hands does not defile the heart, but gluttony does. To eat with publicans and sinners does not defile, but self-righteousness does. What a person does against us does not defile us, but hatred, anger, and malice toward him does.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Luke 15:25-31   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The older brother represents the Pharisaical attitude that resents God's interest in sinners—the same attitude in the early church that looked suspiciously at the inclusion of Gentiles. His self-righteousness manifests itself in jealousy and envy. Today, the elder son is like those who, in self-righteousness, shun brethren who do not live up to their standard of righteousness (Proverbs 20:6; Galatians 6:3; Titus 3:5). Such people do not realize that their self-righteousness is as the filthy rags of the prodigal son (Isaiah 64:6).

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Luke 15 (Part Three)


 

1 Corinthians 4:6-7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This reaches right down to all of us. What room is there for either boasting or envy? There is room for nothing but to face humbly what the Bible tells us. In Romans 12:3, Paul makes a similar statement and adds a warning: "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." Who among us clay vessels can rightfully ask God who has made us, "Why have you made me thus?" or look with disregard or envy at another, knowing God is also measuring out to him the gifts that please Him?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Two


 

James 1:13-15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is not wrong to want something. We can want a spouse, a house, or a car, but not if it belongs to our neighbor - unless he is selling a possession, and we acquire it in a fair and honest manner. However, when "desire has conceived," it may result in breaking any of the Ten Commandments, including covetousness, to which everyone is susceptible. Uncontrolled lust for power, land and wealth can drive men to murder, if necessary, to obtain a coveted prize.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

James 3:14   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The second trait James mentions is "bitter envy." If "envy" is desire for what another has, "bitter envy" must mean a person wants something so much that he is angry and hateful over it. Bitterness is a child of anger and resentment. Satan takes great delight in burdening our hearts with these harmful emotions. Unprovoked or quick-tempered anger is a hallmark of our modern cities, which resound in the night with the bark of gunfire and the howl of sirens.

Bitter envy takes jealousy to the next step by adding resentment and anger, and from it emerges words that stab, cut, tear down, refute, and diminish. We use these to reduce the stature of another so we may seem to stand taller. A talebearer or gossip only wants his listener to think less of another so that he might think more of him.

We can be envious because another sinned and "got away with it." We can envy those who have more, whom we feel do not deserve it. Envy often springs up when we receive unwarranted correction and someone else, who deserves it, does not. We can feel envy when one receives attention we desire for ourselves or when we fail to receive hard-earned recognition.

Envious words are bitter words: They are pointed and sharp, but their target is subtle. On the surface, they may even sound righteous, but in reality, they manipulate thinking in the speaker's favor.

Test: Do our words build or burn? If we build our stature by burning another's, we are standing on a platform of ashes that will crumble and topple us anytime. Only after I was gossiped about repeatedly did I began to see my own words of envy expressed. How foolish it had made me look, trying to stand taller on a pile of ashes!

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part Two)


 

James 4:1-3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When we think of nations at war, do we also think of what a happy situation it is that people are being killed, families separated, property destroyed or confiscated, hopes and dreams shattered, and futures ended? War produces terror, fear, pain, anger, uncertainty, guilt and - if it could be weighed - tons of heartache. War, God's Word informs us, is a fruit of coveting.

Apply these thoughts to a microcosm of national wars, family wars, that so often end in divorce. What causes these family wars? They frequently erupt for the same basic reason as national wars. Somebody is coveting, and though the scale is smaller, the results are the same.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Find more Bible verses about Envy:
Envy {Nave's}
Envy {Torrey's}
 




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