Proverbs 14:30: How does envy rot the bones?

I want to talk about a passage in the Scripture that most of us might already be familiar with. It is something that we should stop and consider because it greatly affects our lives today.

We read in Proverbs 14:30:

30 A sound heart is life to the body,
But envy is rottenness to the bones.

Friends, have you ever stopped and thought about what this verse means?

To discuss this topic, let me answer three questions:

  •  What is envy?
  • How does envy rot our bones?
  • How can we overcome envy in our lives? 

That’s what we are going to talk about today.

Proverbs 14 30 How does envy rot the bones
Proverbs 14:30: How does envy rot the bones

What is envy?

Let’s go to the first question, what is envy?

Merriam Dictionary defines it as “a feeling of unhappiness over another’s good fortune together with a desire to have the same good fortune.” 

In short, envy is the bitter and resentful feeling that you have when you can’t have what others have.

The Hebrew word for envy is qinah, which means envy or jealousy. Envy and jealousy can be related but not entirely the same. Envy is the desire to have something while jealousy is the fear of losing something.

What’s interesting about the Hebrew word qinah is that it can also be translated as zeal or passion. If you could remember my blog entitled, “Why God is a jealous God?”, I explained how there are two types of jealousy, the good one and the bad one. 

The same is true with the word qinah. It can be good or bad as the Scripture tells us that God has qinah, which is translated as zeal or passion, for His people.

However, today, we are going to talk about the bad type of qinah or envy, which is the destructive emotion that all of us can feel.

Being envious is something that we all experience even while we are children. It’s a common human emotion that sticks with us from childhood to old age.

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How does envy rot our bones?

Now, let’s go to the second question, how does envy rot the bones? The Hebrew word for rottenness is raqab, which means rot or decay. Have you ever wondered why the Bible says it rots the bones? Why not the skin, the heart, lungs, or other parts of our body?

Envy destroys from the inside

For one, it tells us that envy destroys us from the inside. The destruction does not come from without, but within! Bones are among the strongest structures in our body and God is telling us that even when we feel we are spiritually strong if we harbor feelings of envy in our lives, it will eventually rot us.

Envy’s most destructive effect isn’t short-term, but long-term! Its effect isn’t immediately felt, but rather it will slowly kill you. At first, you don’t notice it because it starts from within.

Your experience with envy

Have you ever experienced how envy can destroy you? Perhaps, you have seen this in our people. 

I remember a story of a man who was so happy and excited to attend his class reunion. It has already been two decades since they last gathered together. However, the person’s happiness was soon replaced by envy as he noted how successful his classmates were. 

He thought to himself, I had better grades than this guy. I was more popular than this person. How come he drives a nicer car, he lives in a more upscale neighborhood, he has this and that?

Envy multiplied

Have you ever felt that brethren? In our time and age, it’s so easy to get a peek at the lives of other people. You have these video blogs of celebrities and famous people who can easily afford things and vacations in Europe. He looked at these perfect couples who seem to have it all. They have perfect kids. They have perfect lives.

Envy intensifies even more when we see someone we personally know who has become more successful than we are. That’s why statistics show that Instagram, the photo-sharing website, is considered to be the worst social media website for mental health. With the perfect post, filters, and adjustable angles, Instagram can present an unrealistic expectation of what life should be about.

Envy leads to other negative emotions

Now, here’s why envy is dangerous. It leads to different types of negative emotions. For one, you become depressed. I personally know someone who is so envious that she felt depressed and having suicidal thoughts!

Envy robs you of your joy. Instead of being happy with others, you become resentful, angry, and bitter. 

Envy destroys other people

Did you know why the religious leaders arrested Yahshua and presented him to Pilate? I just wanted to briefly read Matthew 27:17-18:

Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.

How about the Jews who opposed the Apostle Paul? We read:

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.

So, instead of being happy that God opened the door to the Gentiles, the Jews felt resentful and angry. 


Because of envy.

Envy leads to confusion and evil things

James 3:13-16 tells us:

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

I hope you can now see the danger that envy brings.

Envy and love aren’t compatible

You can’t fully love one another without getting rid of envy.

We read in 1 Corinthians 13:4:

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.

Thus, for us to love, we must stop envy first.

Envy and the Kingdom of God

Finally, envy can prevent you from entering the Kingdom of God. We read in Galatians 5:19-21:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 ENVY, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

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How do we overcome envy?

First off, focus on what God made you for. The reason we get envious is that we forget that everyone is different. We make other people our standard instead of making God our standard. 

Envy can fool us into thinking that life’s fulfillment is achieved when we get what others have.

We must remember that every one of us has a different curriculum. God’s plan for us is different. Some people are called to be rich. Some people are called to be popular. Some people are called to be powerful.

God’s calling is different for us. We are called to run the Christian race, not the worldly race. 

The greatest tragedy is when we spend all our lives running and running but when we reach the finish line, we realize it was the wrong race.

When we are too focused on doing the work of God, in doing the purpose He has called us to fulfill, and in doing the will of God, we don’t have time to look around and compare ourselves to others. 

Next, how do we overcome envy?

We overcome envy by being thankful for what we have. When we are too busy counting our blessings, we won’t have enough time to look at what others have. The problem with envy is that it makes us too occupied to determine what we don’t have to the point that we forget what we have.

Remember Proverbs 14:30

In closing, brethren, envy doesn’t do you any good. It doesn’t help you grow. It doesn’t help you love. It doesn’t help you reach the Kingdom of God. So, it’s useless to feel envious. What we do instead is be happy for others with the blessings they have and be happy with the blessings that God has blessed us with.

So, every time you feel envious, let’s remember Proverbs 14:30:

A sound heart is life to the body,
But envy is rottenness to the bones.

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