Three passions, wrath, anger and envy, are the subject of our devotional from Proverbs 27:4. In man, those passions are usually sinful in their manifestation because they are expressions of man’s sin nature. However, we see these same passions expressed by God in the Scriptures. For instance, we read in Romans 1:18 that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness”. Those who reject Christ as Savior will be the objects of God’s wrath (John 3:36).
God’s righteous anger is seen throughout the Bible. When the brother and sister of Moses became jealous of God’s special anointing on him, we read: “the anger of the Lord was kindled against them” (Numbers 12:9). We read in Psalm 103:8 that the Lord is “slow to anger”.
Regarding jealousy, the 2nd commandment states, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). In Exodus 34:14 we read, “the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” When God’s people rebelled and turned to worship idols, “They provoked Him [God] to jealousy” (Deuteronomy 32:16).
The wrath, anger and envy discussed in Proverbs 27:4 are sinful in their manifestation. To understand Proverbs 27:4, we must put it in its proper context by once again reading Proverbs 27:3.
Proverbs 27:3 – “A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s [silly, immoral; mocks wisdom] wrath is heavier [more grievous] than them both [the physical weight of stone and sand].”
Proverbs 27:4 – “Wrath [fury; rage] is cruel [merciless; fierce], and anger [picture the flaring of the nostrils] is outrageous [outbursts; overflows like flood waters]; but who is able to stand [withstand; stand still; endure] before envy [in the presence of jealousy]?”
It is the fool’s wrath, anger and envy that is the subject of Proverbs 27:4. A wise man may fall victim to an angry outburst, but he will humble himself and repent. However, the fool has rejected God, lacks moral values and has disdain for godly wisdom. He is easily provoked and his pent-up anger, like a rushing river that suddenly bursts forth over the dike, destroys lives. When the fool gives rein to his wrath the result is often an act of cruel, merciless violence.
The fool’s envy is the most grievous of the three passions, overshadowing cruel wrath and anger’s sudden outburst. Envy is at the root of the fool’s wrath and anger and no man is able to deliver him from its enslaving chains once it has taken root. Lucifer envied God’s throne and dominion and his pride provoked him to rebel against God (Isaiah 14:12-15). The serpent tantalized Eve with the fruit God had forbidden, promising her she would be as god (Genesis 3:1-6). Envy provoked Joseph’s brother to despise him and sell him into slavery (Genesis 37:3-4, 37:17-20, 24-28).
Are you jealous of your sibling’s success? Do you grow resentful when you see your peers promoted? Do you boil with anger when an honor is given to another? Envy is at the core of sibling rivalries, family conflicts, disagreements and wars.
Someone reading today’s devotional is going down the path paved by envy and that eventually leads to self-destruction. Who can withstand bitter jealousy? Who can defuse an emotional time bomb that, when provoked, bursts forth like a flood? Who can quench wrath once it is aflame?
Warning: Envy will enslave you, anger will expose you and wrath will destroy you and everyone you love!
Hebrews 12:15 – “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”