The Malignant Cancer of Envy & Its Cure

Proverbs 14:30

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): There are two sins which were Christ’s sorest enemies, covetousness and envy. Covetousness sold Christ and envy delivered Him—Envy is an evil disease that dwelleth in the heart, and betrays itself mostly in thoughts.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): It is the moth of the soul, and the worm, as the Hebrew word signifies, of the bones.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): If we look beneath the surface we shall find the root of these things to be unmortified pride…Pride has always an envious eye and an envious tongue: envy is but the vexation of pride.

THOMAS MANTON: Proud men would be admired by all, well thought of and spoken of by all, and preferred above all; and, if it be not so, they are discontented, and a secret enmity and malignity invaded their spirits, and settleth itself there; it is an apparent fruit of natural corruption; “The spirit that dwelleth in us, lusteth to envy,” James 4:5.  Men cannot endure either the real or reputed excellency of others. The proud creature would shine alone. Therefore we are secretly nibbling at the credit of others, blasting their reputation, and desire by all means to lessen them, or that they should be lessened—for when we are grieved at the prosperity and excellency of others, we seek to undermine them by all the means we can devise, as when the brothers of Joseph sought to put him out of the way.

JOHN TRAPP: This vice, as it makes the heart to boil with hellish venom, so it blisters out at the tongue, as here: “They could not speak peaceably to Joseph,” Genesis 37:4, but scoff, and consult his ruin.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): His brethren envied, and hated him—Moreover, the way of Cain was a way of hatred, and the murder of his brother, which his envy led him to.

 THOMAS MANTON: It is a sin that feeds upon the mind. Those songs of the women, that Saul had slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands, they ran in Saul’s mind, therefore he hated David, 1 Samuel 18:9—And when Saul still envied David, he was plotting his destruction: so when the Pharisees envied Christ, “If we let him alone, all men will run after him,” this brought them to “crucify the Lord of glory.”

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man.

THOMAS MANTON: And where this disposition prevaileth into any degree of strength and tyranny, it groweth outrageous: Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” Proverbs 27:4…Anger venteth itself in sudden flashes, and wrath in some present act of violence; but envy is injurious and treacherous. Anger and wrath suppose some offence; but envy is troubled at the goodness and excellency of others. Anger and wrath are assuaged by degrees, and when the raging billows cease, there is a calm; but envy groweth by time, and is exasperated more and more, the longer those whom we envy are in good condition.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): I have known one that when he had some envious unkind thoughts stirring in him, against anyone—and who so holy as may not find such vermin sometimes creeping about him—he would go to the throne of grace where he would most earnestly pray for the increase of those good things in them which he before had seemed to grudge.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Envy has been defined as “pain felt, and malignity conceived, at the sight of excellence or happiness in another.”—We may envy our neighbor’s wisdom, though he gives us good counsel; his riches, though he supplies our wants; and his greatness, though he employs it for our protection.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Envy is a denial of providence.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Realize this principle. See the providence of God determining the bounds of your habitations; the age in which you were to live; the stations you were to fill; the comforts you were to enjoy; and the trials you were to endure. And if you have not much of the world―ask―whence is it? Is it because my Heavenly Father is not able to give me more? No. “The silver and the gold are His,” Haggai 2:8; “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein,” Psalm 24:1. Is it because He has no inclination to indulge me? No. He takes “pleasure in the prosperity of His servants,” Psalm 35:27. It is therefore to be resolved into the wisdom and kindness of His administration. His wisdom tells Him how much I can bear―and His kindness will not suffer Him to give me more. His aim is my welfare. The same disposition which leads Him to give, induces Him to deny.  He corrects and He crowns with the same love. This loss is to enrich me: this sickness is to cure me. “I know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them that are the called, according to His purpose,” Romans 8:28.

THOMAS MANTON: Envy is a rebellion against God Himself, and the liberty and pleasure of His dispensations.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Do not show the least discontent at the lot and portion providence carves out to you…Say, as Psalm 16:6, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” Surely that is best for you, which providence hath appointed, and one day you yourselves will judge it so to be.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Resign thy will, submit thy judgment, leave all with the God of all. What a medicine is this for expelling envy!

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Too many Christians envy the sinners their pleasure, and the saints their joy, because they don’t have either one.

C. H. SPURGEON: When we see the wicked prosper we are apt to envy them. When we hear the noise of their mirth and our own spirit is heavy, we half think that they have the best of it…The deathblow of envy is a calm consideration of the future. The wealth and glory of the ungodly are a vain show. This pompous appearance flashes out for an hour and then is extinguished. What is the prosperous sinner the better for his prosperity when judgment overtakes him?

WILLIAM GURNALL: Be sure the pleasure of sin never survives this world…Who would envy the condemned man his feast which he hath in his way to the gallows?

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Envy not the wicked, “nor desire to be with them; choose none of his ways,” Proverbs 3:31; Proverbs 24:1.

C. H. SPURGEON: Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long,” Proverbs 23:17. The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the Divine presence—true religion lifts the soul into a higher region, where the judgment becomes more clear and the desires are more elevated. The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet…As for the godly man, his end is peace and blessedness, and none can rob him of his joy; wherefore, let him forgo envy and be filled with sweet content.


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