Do not envy a man of violence
And do not choose any of his ways (Prov. 3:31, ESV)
If God opposes the proud so severely, why would anyone ever choose such a path? Because, Solomon reasons, we are tempted to envy violent people.
Remember our discussion about violent people from Proverbs 1:10-19? The attraction to violence is that it will gain us more stuff. And more stuff means improved security and increased community, or so we think.
We love ourselves enough to believe anything just to get a little satisfaction. We’ll even believe that “love your neighbor as yourself” means that we first have to love ourselves. Nowhere, however, does the Bible command us to love ourselves; it assumes that we already do. Whenever we put ourselves at the center of the universe, we are choosing to act like violent men. The antidote to such a poisonous choice is to fear the Lord, who really is at the center of the universe. “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day” (Prov. 23:17).
If you’re anything like me, you may have a hard time with this teaching. I want to love people; I really do. I’ll do whatever God wants me to do for most of the people in the world. There are just a select few whom I can’t love. In particular, there are those who have hurt me deeply, and those who don’t deserve my trust because of some failure on their part.
Next week, we’ll see how the New Testament applies Proverbs 3 to these situations.