Text: “For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:3).
Have you ever been envious of someone because they have received something that you wanted? Maybe in the workplace you were passed over for a promotion. Perhaps someone doing the same job or having the same position or qualifications you have received an increase in pay, but you didn’t. How did this make you feel?
You probably didn’t feel very good and in fact you might have even made remarks about the fortunate person. You should have been happy for the person and you should have congratulated that person. The truth of the matter is you were not happy for the other person and perhaps you even aimed to seek revenge.
We are all human and we were born with a sinful nature. Since we do have a sinful nature, we tend to look out for ourselves without giving consideration to the feelings of other people.
Envy is one of the “Seven Deadly Sins.” “Pride, Greed, Anger, Lust, Gluttony, and Sloth or laziness” are the other six relatives. Envy is very common today just as it has always been. The poor or less fortunate envy the more fortunate or wealthy. People who are not outgoing tend to envy those people who are outgoing.
For example, a young high school girl who is not popular with the football players may envy a girl who captures all of their attention. A young high school boy whose parents are not able to provide him with his own car to drive becomes envious of the classmate who has his own car plus an allowance which enable him to enjoy a life of ease.
Many adult men and women are just like the young people. They desire to have what other people have. They tend to want to do what their neighbor does. They get themselves in a financial crisis trying to keep abreast the Jones.
Proverbs 14:30 tells us that “envy rots the bones, but a heart of peace gives life to the body.” Envy will destroy us. It will suck all the joy and happiness out of our life. We will not be the person God intends us to be. Our life as well as the life of those around us will be miserable. Envy will ruin our physical health as well as our spiritual health.
Envy drains our spiritual battery. It takes life out of us and we are not what we should be. Envy causes our outlook and our attitude to be negative. The love that should be in our heart is gone. The radiant Christian smile has vanished from our face. We become a different person because we have let Satan take possession of our mind.
Very early in Scripture we read about a young fellow named Cain who became envious of his brother Abel. His envy led him to murder his brother. Cain was envious of Abel because Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God and his sacrifice was not acceptable. Cain knew what God required and although he was a farmer or tiller of the ground, he could have purchased an animal and offered the required blood sacrifice to Almighty God. (Genesis 4)
When our spiritual batter runs down or becomes drained, we do things and say words that are very hurting. We become rotten to the core. We make remarks about and to people because we lack what they have. We don’t understand the reason people living worldly seem to get all the breaks.
People who openly cheat and steal appear more successful than us. The wealth of the wicked people will eventually move us in the wrong direction. Their wickedness begins to look good to those of us who are faithful because they have and we do not have.
Our Scripture reading says that “God is indeed good to Israel, to those who have pure hearts. But I have nearly lost confidence; my faith was almost gone because I was jealous of the proud when I saw that things go well for the wicked: (Psalm 73:1-3).
We know God is good to us, but because we do not keep a full charge in our spiritual battery we begin to lose power and become weak. Remember the story of Job, who lost everything, including his family. He was a very wealthy and prosperous man, but he was also a man of great faith. Satan was given permission to test Job hoping that at some point, Job would curse Almighty God.
Job was a man of God and he kept his spiritual battery at full charge by staying focused on his Father. He did not lose his faith and therefore he did not falter or lose his footing. Job knew that God was well aware of what was happening to him; how he hurt; what had taken place with his family; and his physical suffering.
Do we have the power and faith that brought Job through all his trials and tribulations? Job didn’t understand why these things were happening to him, but he trusted God. We don’t always understand why we have problems and difficulties or why we are not fortunate enough to have wealth and prosperity, but we do know that God is still in control.
We cannot control how Satan will affect our life, but we can control how we respond because we know that “He who is in us is greater that he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). When Job lost everything, he never wished for anything and he was never jealous of what other people had. With a fully charged spiritual battery and his eyes upon God he never felt the need to feel sorry for himself and downgrade those who possessed what he once had.
The psalmist talked about being jealous of those who are wicked, but still seem to prosper. He said, “They do not suffer pain; they are strong and healthy. They do not suffer as other people do; they do not have the troubles that others have” (Psalm 73:4, 5).
The truth of the matter is that everyone suffers pain of some sort. They may appear strong and healthy and they may seem to have the world in their hands. Their lifestyle might look very good, but the empty place is in their heart. There is no real happiness and joy in the heart if the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is absent.
Everyone suffers and goes through some type of trial. There is unexpected death of a loved one in the godly people just as there is in the ungodly. Terror comes to the godly and the ungodly. Wealth and prosperity is present in the godly and the ungodly. The key is how people handle what life deals them.
The godly know their source of power and are able to maintain a fully charged spiritual battery. The ungodly are so engrossed in worldly living that they forget about recharging their battery and soon their power supply is gone and they are unable to continue their journey.
You and I know people who are very proud of themselves and their achievements. They do not keep it secret. In fact, they talk about themselves and their accomplishments every time they open their mouth.
There are people who are always trying to find a way to acquire more things by taking advantage of people. As the Scriptures tells us, “Their minds are busy with wicked schemes” (v. 7). They are not considerate, understanding, or nice to other people. “They laugh at other people and speak of evil things” (v. 8). Their hearts are hard like a stone.
There is nothing wrong with prosperity except when it gets between the individual and Almighty God. When this happens, the individual develops a high degree of pride within themselves. They forget that what they have is not really theirs, but that everything belongs to God.
When the big “I” gets in the way the person develops an inflated ego and pride shines forth. Pride is a sin and it becomes a part of that person. It is obvious in the way they dress, walk, and treat other people.
The love of God is not present in this person because God has been replaced by some thing. “They speak evil of God in heaven and give arrogant orders to men on earth (Psalm 73:9). They care only about themselves and their accomplishments. These people try to make their lifestyle appealing to other people including Christians.
These arrogant self-centered people will try to convince a child of God that what they are doing is okay because God will never know. Whatever it takes to get worldly possessions can be done without God ever knowing. The ungodly will point to the less fortunate people and compare what they have to what the less fortunate do not have.
The psalmist was one of the less fortunate. He could look out and see the wealth and prosperity of the ungodly and at the same time he could see the affliction and misery of the less fortunate godly people. He could see the godly who were being tempted by the prosperity of the ungodly. He knew Satan was working hard to twist the minds of the godly by tempting them with the way of life of the ungodly.
You and I know that we live life according to the Word of God, but at times we go through trials and tribulations. We suffer various diseases leading to pain and agony. We are not wealthy and prosperous according to the standards of the world.
As a matter of fact, many of us live from day to day and at times have no place to call home, have very little food to eat and possess a very meager wardrobe. We are tempted by Satan to think and say God does not care for us or that it is not to our benefit to follow His Word. Some of us will even look to those who have and wish we had what they have.
When we are in this frame of mind, we will begin to fall for Satan’s way instead of maintaining a strong faith by concentrating on God as our source of power and strength. The psalmist said, “I tried to think this problem through, but it was too difficult for me until I went into your Temple” (v. 16).
When the psalmist said that he went into the Temple, he began to read and study the Scriptures. He poured out his heart to God and asked for understanding. God helped him to understand that life on earth is very short, but life after earth is for all eternity. The rich have worldly things, but these will be left to someone else when their earthly life ends.
These rich and prosperous people like to make themselves look good on the outside, but their heart is empty. They have no conscience. These people are living for the moment and are not considering the future. They will do whatever they have to do in an effort to acquire their worldly desires.
Through communion and prayer with Almighty God, the psalmist understood what will happen to the wicked. In fact, the psalmist said, “You will put them in slippery places and make them fall to destruction! They are instantly destroyed; they go down to a horrible end. They are like a dream that goes away in the morning; when you rouse yourself, O Lord, they disappear” (Psalm 73:18-20).
These rich ungodly people are losing their power. Their battery is running down. They will not be able to continue their lifestyle. They are headed for a state of destruction. These people are not to be envied, but in reality, they should be despised. These are not role model people. They are not people in whose footsteps you should walk.
We are like the psalmist in that at times our thinking wanders off track and we envy those who have and feel sorry for ourselves. We may even reach the point of bitterness because we are hurt. When we move in this direction, our spiritual battery is running low. We are losing power and our power loss may lead to violence.
The loss of spiritual power could very well lead us to act stupid like some animal. This happened to the psalmist. He said, “I was stupid as an animal; I did not understand you” (v. 22). Satan is really happy when a person reaches this state.
He is happy because when our spiritual battery has lost power, we will probably speak evil of God and his will and we will refuse to listen as he speaks to us. At this point, we have placed a wall or barrier between us and God. If we do not repent, we will lose our place God has prepared for us in his mansion. We will not be able to get to heaven. This is very serious business.
When we stay close to Almighty God at all times, our spiritual battery will always be charged. With a full charge, God will guide us each and every step of the way on our journey through this life and then on down the road leading to his heavenly mansion.
The psalmist said, “My mind and my body may grow weak, but God is my strength; he is all I ever need” (v. 26). As we mature, our minds and our bodies will become a bit weaker. In other words, at 70 or 80 or 90 years of age, our minds will not be as sharp as when we were 20 and our bodies may not be as strong, but God will be with us and that is all we need.
We need to stay close to God at all times. When we do this we will not perish. Those who do not have a close relationship with God or who place him second or third instead of first in life will certainly perish.
Only by staying in touch with God on a daily basis can we maintain a fully charged spiritual battery. We need to study his Word, speak to him through prayer, consult him before making any decision and be obedient to him by following the words in red.
When we do these things, we will never have to worry about our destiny and our spiritual battery will never suffer power loss. We will never be envious of the prosperity of the wicked, because we know their destiny.