Be Careful Who You Envy

“Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the Lord: but his secret is with the righteous. The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.  The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”

–Proverbs 3:31-33

It’s easy to envy. Other people are richer, smarter, prettier, stronger. But, when we envy those who got to where they are through less than ethical means, we are walking on dangerous ground.

That’s why the Bible tells us not to envy the oppressor. The word “oppressor” puts in our minds the idea of a tyrant who gains his riches on the backs of the poor whom he rules. An “oppressor” can be a violent person, a criminal, or a dishonest businessman. An “oppressor” is a gang lord who makes his money selling drugs and enslaving people. An “oppressor” is a pimp who preys on and sells girls into sex slavery. Surely, we don’t want to envy such people no matter how rich they are.

Proverbs tells us that these people are an “abomination” to the Lord. We are not to choose any of their ways. “Curses” rest on their house.

On the other hand, God promises blessings on those who are “just” or upright. The word “secret” indicates a close, intimate relationship with the Lord. It is better to lack riches and material possessions and have an intimate relationship with God than it is to have all the wealth in the world and be an abomination — detestable and disgusting — to Him.

On top of that, we are assured that God’s blessings rest on those who are righteous — those who strive to follow God. We may not have all of the material possessions of an “oppressor.” However, God’s grace in our lives and the glorious future we have to look forward to is more than we deserve.