Christianity 201

March 17, 2016

The Bible on Envy, Jealousy, Coveting, Lack of Contentment

Today’s thoughts have two distinct origins.

First, this began with an article I wrote for Thinking Out Loud called A Different Response to Envy, which contained an article titled Turning Envy Upside Down. (Given the choice, choose the second link which has a graphic image and many comments.)

Second, a few years ago here, because it was St. Patrick’s Day, and because scripture verses here always appear in green (because the scriptures are the life of daily Bible study and devotion) we did an entire post in green. So when I found this list, I knew I had to run this on March 17th and tie in with the article on envy.

One last thing: The list is exhaustive, you need to click the title to see it all! (Each verse is also a link to  All scriptures today are ESV, but the link will allow you to click through and see the verse in every English translation. You don’t have to read it all today, just focus on a few verses and let the text speak to you.

Envy And Jealousy

James 3:16 

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; …

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Of David. Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. …

But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. …

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. …

Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. …

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. …

For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.


January 11, 2013

Watch Out for Idolatry

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Updated: October, 2020

This is an updated version of an article we originally shared in 2013 from., titled Be On Guard Against Idolatry. Take a moment to visit the site and check out the other resources there.

“…every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.” — John Calvin

By the grace of God my soul lately has been grieved and burdened in waging war against a vicious onslaught of idolatry. God has been faithful to maintain me through the midst of the struggle and gracious to cover the times of failure. As I was reasoning within my mind one day, seeking to justify a passion gone apostate, I came to a significant realization that I would do well to remember. My reasoning—devilish, indeed—was that I was not embracing “sin” as others were; I was not indulging in, say, immorality or drunkenness. But this led me to ask the following question, and praise be to God that I did: “And what, exactly, is sin?” I thought to myself. Immorality and drunkenness are definitely sins, no doubt, but they are not all what sin consists of. I was being led to believe that I was free to indulge in my heart’s desire because it was not on par with gross sins like theft, murder, or adultery. This, however, is the very thinking employed by Satan and championed by Pharisees.

Sin is disobedience against God; it is lawlessness. And the same God who forbids us from committing murder and adultery also commands us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength—which, indeed, is the “great and foremost commandment” (Matthew 22:38). Yet I was not loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength; I was not loving Him more than that to which I was being drawn—and that right there is sin. God help us to never forget that seeking to justify such treasonous affections whilst condemning outward sins is an exceedingly dreadful beginning of a hellish path toward self-righteousness!

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

You don’t have to only murder, steal, or commit adultery to become guilty of committing sin. Idolatry is sin, as well, and a terrifying one, since it can be far more subtle than the rest. It is found in the same list Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, a list of sins for which the judgment of God is threatened. Elsewhere Paul declares with absolute certainty that no idolater will have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Ephesians 5:5-6) and that God’s wrath is not only coming upon those who practice immorality and impurity, but also idolatry and covetousness, as well (Colossians 3:5-7). We can be so inclined to minimize subtle, idolatrous passions, but the apostle Paul and the rest of the inspired writers make no such categorization anywhere in Scripture.

With that said, let us be on guard against entertaining vain thoughts against God and Christ. When we desire something more than Christ, that is sin. That, in fact, is the root of all sin. All people sin because they desire something more than Christ. This is that corrupt spring that has plagued the sons of men and from which all manner of sin springs forth. We fool ourselves thinking we are not sinning just because we abstain from blatant, outward sins—all the while demonstrating more love toward things than Christ.

Moreover, when we violate our conscience, that too is sin. If we are convicted against something, but we go on to pursue it because, after all, “it is not a vice like immorality,” we are in grave sin. Paul tells us that what we do must proceed from faith because “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Though a particular activity may not be sinful in and of itself, since God has commanded us through His apostle not to violate our conscience, that activity becomes sinful in the specific case in which we are convicted against it. Often we try to reason our way around this when we are convicted against a certain activity by appealing to the fact that it is clearly not a sin or other genuine Christians are free to participate. But, as Paul warned, we are condemned if we partake, because we do not do it from faith.

We need to be ever on guard against such subtle sins as these, as God has brought me to realize recently. There is a reason why the last verse in the apostle John’s epistle contains a warning against idolatry. Let us take heed:

1 John 5:21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation