For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from the burdens common to man; (Psalm 73:2-5a)
We rarely hear of the Seven Deadly Sins within our Protestant tradition but we intuitively know that envy is not good. Whether it be the Ten Commandments, selections from the Proverbs, or passages such as Ephesians 4:17-32 being preached, we have undoubtedly been warned against the subtlety of the sin of envy. All sin starts in the mind as we toy with it, roll it over in (what we think is) a safe, hidden environment. The psalmist reflects on this game we all play, allowing the envious fantasy to play about in our minds while, at the same time, dismissing the danger.
What danger? The peril inherent in the truth we know but avoid; the step from thought to action is the shortest of all of our strides. We lose our foothold when envy makes itself at home in our thoughts.
Envy, for the Christian, is an especially challenging issue because the enemy preys on our sometimes immature sense of fairness. Our hearts are tempted to look upon the riches, health, and ease of life the ungodly enjoy and compare it to our struggles or relative poverty and ask, how is this fair God? Why do those who express an open malice toward God appear to have riches that remain out of the grasp of the believer? The psalmist expresses our moments of doubt well;
This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. (vv 12-13)
We’ve all been there. We may have even expressed it out loud. Some have stepped over the line to create their own ‘fairness.’ Our hearts have been led astray but Spirit has brought the majority of us back from the edge. Our faith has been renewed as the eventual destination of the wicked becomes clearer in our sight and we realize that nothing is worth the separation it creates between ourselves and our Father.
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. (vv 21-23)
We have faith into eternity, it lasts beyond the next few weeks, months, or years. The Spirit gives us a glimpse of eternity and the wisdom to understand that it is better to be close to God and know His glory forever rather than to enjoy material wealth now and separation later. Doubts approach us from all directions but we give them no harbor. The Lord is our refuge.
Grace and peace to you.
image Bright Star