Lucifer was once an honored angel, a cherub. He was perfect in beauty, full of wisdom, and was admitted to the holy mountain of God, where he walked in the midst of the stones of fire. He was in Eden, the garden of God, of which the one on earth was evidently a copy. His ways were perfect, and God gave him the work of "covering," and also anointed him.
But Lucifer was not satisfied. He was envious of God. he became lifted up because of his beauty; he corrupted his wisdom because of his brightness, and decided upon a course which he hoped would make him equal to God. He went so far that he said, "I am a God, I sit in the seat of God."
Envy is closely related to discontent. The envious man is a discontented man. Note the company that envy keeps: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; . . . envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:13-21.
It was because Joseph's "brethren envied him" that they, "moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt." Genesis 37:11; Acts 7:3. It was because Korah, Dathan, and Abiram "envied Moses" that they were swallowed up as the earth opened, and "a fire was kindled in their company." Psalm 106: 16, 18. It was because the "Jews which believed not" were "moved with envy" that they tried to kill Paul. Acts 17:5. It was because the chief priests were envious of Christ that they attempted to kill Him. Even "Pilate . . . knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy." Mark 15:9, 10.
"Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." James 3:16. "Whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men!" 1 Corinthians 3:3. Those who at last are given "over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient," are such as are "full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, . . . who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." Romans 1:28-32.
"They which commit such things are worthy of death." These are solemn words. To be envious does not seem a great sin to some, but in the sight of God it is counted worthy of death. Envy played a large part in Lucifers fall; envy raised up rebellion against Moses; envy sold Joseph into Egypt; envy attempted to kill Paul; envy gave Jesus to be crucified. With such a record it is well to heed the admonition of the apostle Peter and lay aside "all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings." 1 Peter 2:1.
No man is safe from this sin until he has learned to rejoice in the success of others. If there is jealousy in the heart, if there is envy when others are spoken well of, there is danger. The musician who cannot bear to have another musician praised, is of small caliber, however great his name. The scientist who is illiberal in his estimate of the accomplishment of other scientists is unworthy of the name. The preacher who is jealous of the success of others and fails to give them due credit for work done, is not fit for the kingdom. God loves the man who is willing to work, and work hard, without thinking of the reward. There are some who are not even willing to shut a door without pay. Malachi 1:10. Such do not have the spirit of Christ.
Although discontent and envy are related, they are not identical. Discontent is a lack of satisfaction with oneself or one's own conditions, unrest in the mind. Envy has reference to one's feeling toward another, because of his superior success or endowments or possessions, and generally issues in resentment and grudge. The two words are interactive: envy breeds discontent and dissatisfaction, and in turn discontent breeds envy. Discontent may possibly exist without envy, but envy almost surely leads to discontent.
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