Proverbs 23:17,18, Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.
This is one of six "let not" proverbs.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee:
Let not wisdom and knowledge depart from thine eyes
Let not thine heart decline to her ways,
Let not thy soul spare for thy son's crying.
Let not thine heart be glad when thine enemy stumbleth:
We are told in our proverb for today, "Let not thine heart envy."
It means don't permit your heart to envy.
God is telling us here that envy is only exercised with your permission.
Envy has to have a permit and you are the one to grant the permit.
In the "let not" proverbs God says don't grant the permit.
It is up to you. You cannot blame your envy on the one you envy.
It is a matter of the will and God gives you free will not to envy.
Imagine this conversation between the husband and wife neighbor of the rich farmer of Luke 12.
Husband: Marion, I wish I was as fortunate as our neighbor, the rich man.
I sure do envy him! The ground that he owns is rich and brings forth plentifully.
Did you see his crops this year?
He has no room to store all the bounty that he has grown this year.
His barns are too small. I wish I had problems like that.
Can you imagine? I hear that he has had such a fruitful year that he will tear down his barns.
Barns that are plenty good and better than ours I might add Marion, and then he intends to build bigger barns.
My, I wish I was him to have such riches and comfort.
And you know what else he intends to do.
He is going to sit back on his lees and retire from farming and take it easy, just drinking, eating and being merry.
Doesn't that sound good Marion?
He doesn't have to depend on good weather from God anymore.
He says who cares about the rains and the sun.
He has it all and he intends to enjoy life!
I sure envy him his position!
Now what is wrong with this picture?
It is a foggy picture because it does not tell the whole story.
It is not a complete picture.
There are facts missing from the picture that should have been included before a conclusion was reached.
God provides the missing facts in Luke 12:20,21, But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Envy comes and hides the facts. It distorts the mind and clouds the brain from thinking right thoughts.
Envy narrows the view and puts blinders on the mind.
Envy does not have 20/20 vision, seeing only what it wants to.
Envy conveniently leaves out critical information necessary for one to come to the right conclusion.
Envy is painful. It brings resentment of others who may have advantage that you desire to have.
The advantage may concern material goods or social status or power or intelligence.
Envy is a fruit of the flesh and as all fruit of the flesh defiles, so it defiles the one who envies.
Envy is a characteristic of unregenerate life and is a trait of false teachers.
Envy was the motive leading to the arrest of Jesus and envy led to the opposition to the gospel in the book of Acts.
Paul and Peter caution Christians to avoid envy.
Paul in Galatians 5:26, says, Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
And Peter in 1 Peter 2:1, writes, Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
Asaph, a Levite and a musical composer, writer of the 73rd Psalm was envious at the foolish when he saw the prosperity of the wicked.
He saw them strong in death, without trouble, free from plagues.
Pride compassed about them. He saw that they had material goods more than their heart's desire.
He saw them as being able to get away with corruption and lofty words against the most high.
He saw them prospering in the world and increasing in riches.
But Asaph did not stop there and conclude the matter.
He did not brood about it and feel sorry for himself. He heard God say "Let not", don't permit it!
He went into the sanctuary of God and there he understood their end.
He went to the Lord.
He feared the Lord and because he feared the Lord, the Lord instructed him with the rest of the story.
He gave him the rest of the facts upon which to make the right judgment.
He told Asaph that the feet of the wicked were set in slippery places.
He told Asaph that the slippery places were designed to cast them down into destruction.
He told Asaph that the wicked would be brought into desolation, as in a moment!
And he told Asaph that they are to be utterly consumed with terrors.
That is what the fear of the Lord all the day long will do for you.
The fear of the Lord all the day long will clear up a foggy mind and put in you a mind God intended for you.
It will comb the kinks out of your thinking.
It will fill in the missing gaps in the story.
Without the fear of the Lord, Asaph did not know the sinners end.
He had only short range vision that reason gave him.
But with the fear of the Lord comes long range vision by way of faith. Faith extends your vision!
And that long range vision allows you to see the sinners end, and to see the sinners end is to destroy any envy for the sinner because the sinner has nothing worth having.
Verse 18 continues with comforting instruction, For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.
The Lord reminds us to be patient. If your cross is heavy look up with a long range view of faith.
You only have a little time to bear it.
The fear of the Lord all the day long will bring Jeremiah 29:11 to mind.
It will remind you that the Lord is in charge of the end and will bring the right things about.
He reminds us that we have an expected end. God is not in the surprise business. Our end is predictable.
Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Every one of God's people will realize the same expected end and that end will be with Christ.