She is never satisfied with what she has, is jealous of what others have and often causes trouble.The tenth commandment states simply and clearly, ‘Thou shalt not covet’, Exod. 20. 17. We covet when we want what other people have.The problem with coveting is that it leads us to feel dissatisfied. Envy never leads to satisfaction, ‘The eyes of man are never satisfied’, Prov. 27. 20 and ‘Envy rots the bones’, Prov. 14. 30. Unless we are very careful, the green-eyed monster of envy can lead us to dislike or even hate others simply because they have what we don’t. Sometimes envy can even lead to us using unscrupulous and sinful means to get what we want. Pilate was aware that it was because of envy that the Jews wanted to crucify the Son of God.
The tenth commandment deals with men and women coveting other things – another man’s grand house, his pretty wife, his efficient employees, his means of transport. Ahab coveted Naboth’s beautiful vineyard, and was willing to get it at all costs. He should have been satisfied with what he had. It is better to have a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth and trouble. But we can also be envious of someone’s way of life. We must not envy the famous, wealthy, powerful people around us. We are told not to envy ‘the man of violence and choose none of his ways,’ Prov. 3. 31 RV, even though he may be ‘cool’.
We must not envy pop-stars, film-stars, and sportsmen nor should we envy their WAGS!Prov. 23. 17; 24.19. Why? Because their way of life and standard of behaviour is often ungodly and we should not want to be like them or even to spend time with them, Prov. 24. 1-2. Nor should we envy fellow-believers who may have a higher profile than we do. When believers are envious of other people’s position in an assembly, their influence or gifts, tremendous strain is put upon fellowships. Believers are told not to envy one another, Gal. 5. 26, for ‘where envying and strife is there is confusion and every evil work’ and there are divisions, strife and unspiritual attitudes, Jas. 3. 14-16; 1 Cor. 3. 3-9. Many a friendship, much good Christian fellowship and many an assembly has been destroyed by envy and by the work of Miss, Mrs. or Mr. Want-more. Surely it does not matter who is doing the work of the Lord, or who has what gift and who takes what role in an assembly, so long as the work of God is being done. Neither does it matter in the end what I have or what I do not have. It is God who gives gifts to whomsoever He wishes, 1 Cor. 12. 4-11. Envy, or jealousy, is a powerful emotion that is irresistible in its force and can overcome and destroy anything, Prov. 27. 4. The Lord tells us that we should avoid being caught up in such emotions and with envious people, 1 Cor. 6. 11. If we want to ’keep up with the Joneses’ we will find they may always be one step ahead of us and we will never be happy. Godliness with contentment is the best thing to have, 1 Tim. 6. 6.