It can begin in a subtle way when we ask, “I wonder how they can afford that car?” Or maybe in an accusatory tone we comment, “They sure go on a lot of trips.” Or perhaps we think to ourselves, “I wish our family was as squared away as they are.”
It may happen periodically or, for some, it has become a recurring and debilitating way to live. While disciplined self-evaluation in light of Scripture is essential, we act dangerously when we compare ourselves to others. At the core, this mindset is self-focused, leading us to evaluate our lives by using others as a benchmark of happiness and fulfillment. This is a treacherous practice and can start us down a path of envy with no good ending.
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
— Proverbs 14:30
As all Scripture is God-breathed, a deeper analysis is necessary. Obviously, our bones provide the skeletal structure for our bodies, but they also provide much more. The majority of our strongest bones contain our bone marrow, which produces our red blood cells and platelets, as well as most of our white blood cells. These red and white blood cells and platelets are carried through the body to perform various functions, including distributing oxygen, eliminating carbon dioxide, and serving as a coagulant when a cut or injury occurs. Additionally, the white cells aid our immune system in fighting off bacteria and viruses that cause infections. Basically, our bones create the ingredients that provide life-giving cells to our bodies and protect us from disease and sickness.
King David is telling us that when our heart — the muscle that delivers life-giving blood throughout the body, and in Scripture represents what we know, what we think, what we desire, how we love, our proximity to God, the core of our being — is at peace with God and at peace with our life, we are refreshed and renewed.
In contrast, when we are persistent in our desire to have or achieve what we see in others, we rot from the inside out. And like most things that rot, it takes place over time, and it smells bad. Our envious desires eat away at us, replacing what otherwise would be the sweet aroma of the fruit of the Spirit with foul-smelling remnants of a flesh-led, self-absorbed, lonely life of envy.
Envy will eat away at the joy of your salvation. Envy will eat away at your relationships. Envy will eat away at your family. Envy will eat away at your health.
Open our eyes, Lord, to the insidious peril of an envious life.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
— 2 Peter 1:3