Don't Envy Evil
"Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble." Proverbs 24:1-2
Solomon says that we should not be envious of people who are evil. At first glance, this may seem like a confusing proverb. Why would we want to be like someone who is evil? Evil, as the Bible describes it, does not always look like someone enacting terror on the city like a fiery dragon. Evil can look like selfish schemes and dedication to personal gain. Evil can look like someone twisting scripture for selfish reasons. Consider when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Satan came to Jesus while he was in the desert for 40 days (a moment of physical weakness) and suggested that he turn stones into bread, perform a stunt from the top of the temple, and even asked Jesus to worship him for a chance to gain the world.
In a moment of weakness, we all can be tempted by evil thoughts and desires of selfish gain. Human beings are great at justifying terrible actions when there seems to be some kind of personal gain on the other side. Things were not different back when Solomon was alive, so he offers a warning for us to not give in to envy or desire what is evil. It goes back to the principle from a few days back when we talked about reaping what we sow. If we plant peace, we will reap righteousness. But if we covet what is evil and let that desire take hold, we will reap violence and trouble.
"My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off." Proverbs 24:13-14
Honey on a warm biscuit is one of my favorite things to eat. I could eat honey on a biscuit literally any time of the day. There is something almost magical about the taste of honey, especially when you pair it with another food. Now that I have probably made you hungry as well, let's consider what Solomon is talking about here with honey and wisdom. Just like honey might be good for you (it has many health benefits) and tastes sweet, wisdom is also good for you and can even taste sweet. How can wisdom taste good? Wisdom tastes good because there is no hint of evil in wisdom. It is pure and true. Just like the simple taste of honey, wisdom provides clarity of spirit and action that will result in a life that brings hope for your future.
This does not mean that life will be easy or without problems; wisdom is not a magic bullet to fix your life or offer you instant wealth. Wisdom is, however, a peace that passes understanding. Walking in wisdom is, as Jesus describes in Matthew 5:37, letting our 'yes' be 'yes' and our 'no' be 'no.' There is a simplicity and sweetness when you can walk in truth. If the truth will set us free, then walking in wisdom and allowing that truth to guide our lives will create in us an environment where our souls can flourish. Is there too much complexity in your life? Are you trying to keep up with the different lies you have told different groups of people? Take a bite of the honey of wisdom and begin to live in the simplicity of the truth.
"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him. Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out." Proverbs 24:17-20
When we flee evil and walk in truth, it should not bring about a spirit of pride or feeling that we are better than someone else. We are not called to rejoice when someone falls, but this is a concept that is easier said than done. It is in our nature as humans to want to win and it's also in our nature to want to make sure that everyone knows that we won. Wisdom instructs us to not let our hearts become glad when someone stumbles. We need to make sure that we check in with ourselves on a regular basis to make sure we are not feeding our hearts something that is actually poison.
Reflect and Respond
Are you enjoying the honey of wisdom? Or, are you eating the poison of rejoicing when your enemy falls? Every day is a chance to change the diet of your soul and live in the simplicity of wisdom and truth. Take a few moments today to consider this.