“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (I Peter 2:1-3).
Chapter Two of I Peter begins a conclusion which directs the reader throughout the rest of the epistle. Peter identifies “five” sins involving our speech and attitudes which we must eliminate.
The word “so” is another way of saying “therefore.” As a consequence of who we are in Christ and our desire to be holy as He is holy (I Peter 1:16) God directs believers to put away or cease what we are accustomed to doing. What follows is not a pretty list, but Peter is less concerned with hurting people’s feelings as he is with truth. Please notice the adjective “all” which precedes all five nouns. This repentance is to be a total renunciation of ungodliness.
The first sin mentioned is malice. The second is deceit. The third is hypocrisy. The fourth is envy.
Envy (φθόνος; phthonos) is jealousy. It is to hate someone for a presumed advantage they have. Envy is not only wanting what someone else possesses, but also resenting them for having this “something” when you do not. Envy can result in corruption and destruction in order to acquire what it is you believe you must have. Check out the Old Testament story of Naboth and King Ahab and a certain vineyard in I Kings 21.
God tells us in the final commandment of the Ten Commandments that believers are not to covet (Exodus 20). It doesn’t matter what it is, God says don’t envy and covet. It can be destructive.
Envy was regarded by the Apostle Paul to be a sin of the flesh (I Corinthians 3:3). Envy is among the things that comes from the heart, defiling a person (Mark 7:14-23). Jesus said the whole body is full of darkness when the eye, the lamp of the body, is bad (Luke 11:34-36).
Proverbs 17:5 says, “He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.” Envy ruins the body’s health, making bones rot (Proverbs 14:30). Envy prohibites one inheriting the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). Sometimes, as a punishment, people are left in their sins, falling prey to envy and other sins (Romans 1:18-32).
Envy is credited as the basis of all toil and is therefore deeply ingrained in man’s nature (Ecclesiastes 4:4). Envy comes into being when man lacks certain things, or when things are used for one’s own selfish pleasures (James 4:1-3). Envy may be caused by wealth (Psalm 73:3).
For example, Isaac, envied the Philistines (Genesis 26:12-15), by the brightness of wealth, power and beauty Assyria envied other kingdoms (Ezekiel 31:1-9), and by political and military popularity King Saul envied David from the moment he heard the women’s songs of joy (I Samuel 18:5-9).
Leah envied her sister Rachel (Genesis 30:1-2), Joseph’s brothers envied Jacob’s love for him (Genesis 37:1-11). The religious leaders envied the apostles (Acts 5:12-20) and the popularity of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:44-47). Unfaithful Jews envied the success of Paul and Silas in the conversion of many Thessalonians (Acts 17:1-5) and the chief priests envied Jesus’ virtues and true power to heal, to make miracles and to teach people (Matthew 25:15-26; Mark 15:6-15).
Ask God to reveal to you what areas of your life you are prone to envy. Repent of them knowing that godliness with contentment is great gain (I Timothy 6:6).
Have a blessed day, beloved.
Soli deo Gloria!