Envy Not the Oppressor
31 Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
1. In the last passage, Solomon warned his son not to strive.
2. In this verse, he warns his son not to envy.
3. Envy: envy or jealousy; wanting, craving what someone else has. Envy pains to hear of others doing well. Envy is grieved to see others prosper, or to hear them praised. (all stems from selfishness)
4. It is the opposite of contentment.
a. God has commanded us to be content with such things as we have… (Heb.13:5)
b. We are to be content in whatsoever state we find ourselves. (Phil.4:11)
• God is the One who sovereignly places us in our lot in life.
• Think of Christians who live in India under the caste system. They are born into a certain caste, and are stuck there the rest of their lives. That is God’s doing. They are to be content.
• So too for Christians born in poverty or great wealth in this country.
• It is entirely Lord’s doing… we are not to envy what others have. We are to learn to be content in whatsoever state we are in.
• Don’t envy others! You don’t know all the baggage that comes with their position that is not seen by others!
c. If we have food and clothing, we are to be content. (I Tim.6:8)
• How many of us really WOULD be content if that is all we had in this life?
• Folks in Ethiopia don’t even have food and raiment. They envy other tribes who have food and clothing.
• We have food and clothing and so much more. Yet, we are not more content. Instead, we envy what the wealthy in this country have…
• It is human nature to look around at what others have, and envy it… lust for it… we tend to covet our neighbors goods.
• Even if we obtained what our neighbor has… there is always someone with more… there is no end… unless the heart is changed.
5. Prov.14:30 – it is the rottenness of the bones!
a. It is the opposite of a healthy heart. It is sick… rotten.
b. It will eat away at the inner man, like a disease eats away at the body.
c. Envy gets under the skin—and burns away—when we hear others praised, promoted, and prospering… because we want the praise, promotion, and prosperity for ourselves!
6. Prov.27:4 – it is worse than wrath or anger!
a. Who can stand before it? It can engender more passion and rage than mere anger. It is an endless reservoir of rage!
b. It can totally control one’s life.
c. It can lead to all kinds of other sins… even murder!
d. Anger and wrath usually swell up for a while and then simmer down. Envy remains under our skin…
e. Anger and wrath may be appeased. Envy doesn’t go away so easily.
7. Prov.23:17 – the cure is to fear God!
a. People that fear God are conscious of Him… of His presence… His power… aware of His omniscience and omnipotence…
b. The more conscious we are of the Lord, the more satisfied with Him we will be. The more satisfied with the Lord, the less we will crave after what our neighbor has!
8. Another cure for envy is a closer relationship to God.
a. Heb.13:5 – we are told to be content with what we have—because we have Christ! He should be all we need! He is the one who satisfies the soul and brings contentment. When Christ is our life, we won’t be looking for contentment and satisfaction in the things our neighbor owns. We will glory in the Lord!
b. I John 2:15-16 – John commands us NOT to love the world… for the love of the Father is not in him! His point is that our heart can only love one Master—either the things of the world, or God.
1. The particular kind of envying mentioned here is envying the oppressor.
2. Oppressor: violence, wrong, cruelty, injustice (margin reads: violent man)
3. One might ask, “Who would ever envy a cruel, violent oppressor?
a. Answer: Lots of people!
b. It is not the oppression that is envied, but the power and wealth often associated with it.
• Some men crave to exercise power over others.
• They get a sort of morbid pleasure in tyranny.
c. Some evil men trample over others to get where they want to go.
• They use people. They abuse people.
• They lie, cheat, steal, misrepresent, use fraud, violence, stab others in the back—all to get to the top of the ladder.
• Obviously, not all people in positions of power are like this. Some are quite godly—but Solomon is speaking about “oppressors!” (men of violence)
d. By mistreating others and trampling over the backs of others, some men manage to push and shove themselves into positions of power and great wealth.
• In the world, wicked men often prosper, and godly men are often taken advantage of.
• You don’t get ahead in the world by turning the other cheek, by putting others first, suffering yourself to be defrauded, by sacrificial love, or by esteeming others better than yourself.
• Sometimes ungodly men take advantage of those traits. In doing so, they may even prosper.
• The wealthy land owners in James 5 were such oppressive men. They took advantage of the lowly workers and obtained great wealth in the process.
e. Solomon is warning his son (and us) not to envy the power and wealth that men accumulate by oppressive, violent, and dishonest means.
• This passage would be especially applicable to Christian businessmen.
• Running your business in such a way as to please the Lord means that many tricks of the trade—used by all your competition—you may not be able use!
• Other companies may take advantage of their lowly workers, you may not. Other companies may employ questionable practices. You may not. You KNOW that those tricks work… and that other companies have grown, prospered, and expanded as a result.
• Don’t envy them!
• Be more concerned about pleasing the Lord than pleasing your accountant or your stockholders!
• The same principle is true in running a local church! In observing how local churches in the valley have operated in the past 20 years, I have seen some unsavory, unethical practices too… worldly tricks that draw in crowds, keep people happy, and result in numerical growth. We are NOT to envy that kind of “success.”
CHOOSE NONE OF HIS WAYs
1. The temptation would be to FOLLOW the ways of the oppressor… or of the man who uses dishonesty, violence to obtain power or wealth.
2. For the Christian businessman who observes another business use ruthless tactics and prosper—one might be tempted to imitate those actions—because they work!
3. One might be tempted to justify by saying, “Business is business. It’s a dog eat dog world out there. You gotta fight fire with fire…”
4. Yet the Bible says NOT to choose his ways. We are to follow in the ways of God—even if they don’t seem to advance our ambitions —even if they don’t seem to produce the kind of results we would like to see.
5. DON’T choose the ways of the dishonest oppressor… of the evil man. Follow God and trust Him for the outcome.
6. So too in running a local church—the principle is the same. We are NOT to choose the ways of the church growth movement just because they work. We are here to follow God’s ways (Bible) and to please Him (not men) and leave the increase to the Lord.
32For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.
1. The REASON we are not to envy that kind of success is because the froward is an abomination to the Lord!
a. Froward – crooked; devious; all kinds of evil practices.
b. Don’t envy it—God hates it!
2. The end of the ungodly is anything but enviable! The oppressors… the froward will one day be judged by God. Their days are numbered. Don’t envy that!
a. Prov.24:19 – Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
b. Prov.24:1 – Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
c. Psalm 37:1-2 – Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
d. Psalm 73:1-3 – Asaph was envious at the foolish.
• UNTIL he went into the house of the Lord and saw their end. (vs.17)
• Vs.18 – they are but a step away from destruction.
• That is nothing to envy. We would not envy these men if we saw them as one breath away from the Lake of Fire!
• Consider the terms used of them: there is no reward; their candle shall be put out; they shall be cut down like grass; they will be cast down into destruction; That is not an envious position to be in!
• When we get a heavenly perspective on things, our whole attitude will change. Envy will be turned into pity!
• Then, instead of wanting what they have, we will want to share with them what we have—salvation in Christ!
3. Solomon teaches his son the same lesson Asaph learned. Don’t envy wicked men.
a. They may prosper in the present world, but they are an abomination to the Lord, and in the life to come, they will experience judgment!
b. There is no cause to envy that!
c. Ecc.4:1 – later Solomon wrote about the oppressors. He noted all the sorrow and tears they created. He also noted that although they ended up with much power, they did not have any more inner comfort, rest, or peace than the people they oppressed!
d. There is no reason to envy them!
4. God’s secret is with the righteous.
a. God gives grace to the lowly… not the proud, powerful, arrogant oppressors! (Cf. Psalm 25:14 – the secret of the Lord is with them who fear Him, and He will shew them his covenant.”
b. The proud, ignorant oppressors know nothing of God and His ways.
c. God’s secrets… God’s counsel, which is hidden to the world is known to the righteous.
d. Sinners are an abomination to God. Saints are His delight!
e. Knowing God is FAR more valuable than any wealth or power the oppressors may have accumulated.
f. We have God’s secret—God’s word—which is far better than rubies… more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold!