Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
The world exalts and promotes sinners. Movie stars, athletes, performing artists, business tycoons, royalty, politicians, and other rich and famous sinners are pushed at you every day. Solomon, with wise parental love, warned his son against envying worldly sinners (Pr 24:1,19). He knew the fear of God instead should be his only ambition (Ec 12:13-14).
Every generation, of every nation, has had heroes and stars; but only recently can the images and words of these popular sinners be thrown at you all the time. If this warning was important in Solomon’s day, it is much more important today. These sinners are all going down, and every Christian must believe it and live like it (Pr 23:18; Ps 37:1-3).
There are 10,000 sinners to envy in this generation and world. Every age, both male and female, and all temperaments, find certain sinners to be temptations. They imagine how wonderful life could be, if they had the abilities, looks, success, spouse, or circumstances of their idol. He might be a product of Hollywood; she might be a classmate or neighbor.
The fear of the Lord is far better. Every sinner, no matter how rich or famous, will die and go to hell (Ps 49:6-20). So fearing the Lord is man’s whole duty (Ec 12:13-14). With God’s blessing and favor, even obscurity and poverty are better than the dysfunctional, hopeless lives and eternal suffering of the wicked (Pr 15:16; Ps 37:16). Believe it, reader!
Moses did not envy Pharaoh or his rising peers; he chose the reproach of Jesus Christ to be of much greater value, for he saw his and their eternal future (Heb 11:24-26). Asaph described in wonderful terms the wisdom of looking past the glitter to the grave (Ps 73:1-28). While Demas loved this present world, Paul loved a future world (II Tim 4:7-8,10).
A morgue teaches the future of glamour girls. Yesterday’s goddesses are feeding today’s worms. Better yet, visit a cancer ward. Before they rot in the grave, they take on a ghastly and ghostly look. And then comes hell. Young girls envying models is one thing; adult women envying models is twice as vain. But the virtuous woman, shunning this world’s enticements to seek Christ, will live in pleasant splendor forever (Pr 23:18; I Tim 2:15).
Why read magazines glamorizing sinners? Why watch them on television? The world only shows enticing features of them: you do not see them drunk, divorced, depressed, dying, or dead. Why daydream about them? Your deceitful heart dwells on their seducing traits: it lies to you about their present troubles and future judgment, and you believe it. It would be far better to envy the righteous and covet their character and reputations.
Your constant thought must be to fear God, which is to hate evil and keep His commands (Pr 8:13; 14:2; Ps 112:1; 128:1). Fearing the Lord is not a mindset for devotions, for times of trouble, for prayer, for Sunday worship, or the Lord’s Supper – it is the lifestyle, perspective, and worldview that real Christians follow every minute all day long. You cannot allow envy for sinners even a second to get a toehold in your heart or soul!