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Don’t Envy Sinners

by J. M. Farro on February 7th, 2021

   “Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the Lord.  You will be rewarded for this; your hope will not be disappointed.”  Proverbs 23:17-18 NLT

   I encourage you to do some serious soul-searching today, and ask yourself if you have ever – even for a moment – envied sinners.  I was guilty of this very thing myself many years ago, before I had a personal, intimate relationship with the Lord.  Back then, I was a “casual Christian.”  I was saved and on my way to heaven, but I never experienced the discernible presence of Almighty God for myself.  Once I surrendered my life to the Lord for real, just before my 40th birthday, I discovered that God wanted to reveal Himself to me in life-changing ways, and that He wanted to be involved with every aspect of my life on a moment-by-moment basis.  Now, I truly pity the people who are trying to live this earthly life without the awesome presence of God.

   The Passion Translation of the above verses says: “Don’t allow the actions of evil men to cause you to burn with anger.  Instead, burn with unrelenting passion as you worship God in holy awe.  Your future is bright and filled with a living hope that will never fade away.”  God doesn’t want us to waste our time or energy burning with anger over the evil actions of the wicked.  Instead, He longs for us to burn with passion for His awe-inspiring presence.  The great preacher Charles Spurgeon said: “How is the prosperous sinner the better for his prosperity when judgment overtakes him?  As for the godly man, his end is peace and blessedness, and none can rob him of his joy; wherefore, let him forego envy, and be filled with sweet content.”  When we focus on the wicked – instead of on our God and all that He blesses us with here on earth, and all that He will bless us with in heaven – we rob ourselves of the joy and contentment that Christ died for us to have. (John 16:22)

   Elsewhere in Proverbs it says: “Don’t fret because of evildoers; don’t envy the wicked. For evil people have no future; the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.” (Proverbs 24:19-20 NLT)  These verses remind me of a quote by the theologian Charles Bridges: “Our hearts, instead of envying sinners, should be full of compassion for them, for they have nothing to look forward to but death.”  As born-again children of the Most High God, we would do well to pity and pray for these poor souls, and to minister to them as the Holy Spirit leads us to.  Today, let us give thanks that “[our] future is bright and filled with a living hope that will never fade away”!

   Lord, please work in my heart so that I will never spend a single moment of my life envying sinners.  Instead, show me how to pray for them, and to minister to them according to Your will.  Help me to long for Your presence continually, and to dwell on all the good things You have for me in this life, as well as in the next.  Thank You that as I worship You in holy awe, I will experience Your sweet contentment and joy!

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