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The Rottenness of the Bones

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

Jealousy is often called “the green-eyed monster.” Also known as envy, jealousy has ruined relationships of every type.

One young man is jealous of another because he runs faster or jumps higher. A young lady is jealous of another young lady because her hair is naturally fuller or she is taller. Even preachers are jealous of each other because one has a bigger congregation or more ministry success than the other.

The sin of jealousy is often minimized and, unfortunately, considered a "respectable sin.” After all, everyone is guilty of it at one time or another. However, WHEN the green-eyed monster is given a place in our hearts, it can do very serious damage!

Proverbs 14:30 says that envy is the “rottenness of the bones.”

One commentator explains that unchecked envy in a person’s heart is like “suffering from a painful and possibly an incurable condition.”

Another individual calls it “the most uncontrollable sin.”

In Proverbs 27:4 Solomon gives us a progression of evil that climaxes with jealousy. Notice the progression, "Wrath is cruel; (level 1) and anger is outrageous; (level 2), but who is able to stand before envy?" (level 3) This is a red alert! This is the deadly level.

So, "Who is able to stand before envy?" The understood answer to this rhetorical question is "no one can."

Cain could not. His jealousy motivated him to kill his brother Abel (Genesis 4).

Who is able to stand before envy? Joseph's brothers could not. They hated Joseph and sold him into slavery. (Genesis 37:3, 4)

Who is able to stand before envy? The older brother of the prodigal son could not. (Luke 15:25-31)

Luke 15 explains that instead of rejoicing that the younger brother had returned, instead of joining the party and the dancing and partaking of the feast with everyone else, instead of doing the will of the father, the older brother's jealousy gave rise to anger. His jealousy revealed a stubbornness, a selfishness, and an entitlement mentality.

Solomon's question, "Who is able to stand before envy?" Again, the answer is no one can in his own flesh.

Consider with me envy’s poisonous potential, and its biblical antidote.

First, we must understand its poisonous potential.

Remember that jealousy always starts with comparison, and comparison is often dangerous.

(People who are) “comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” - 2 Corinthians 10:12

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with seeing someone else's success and being inspired to achieve, but there is something wrong with comparing yourself to others in areas that you cannot change.

Comparison is dangerous because it often leads to a sinful discontentment and discontentment has the poisonous potential of questioning the way God bestows gifts.

1 Corinthians 3:3 says about the Corinthians, "there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions…”

1 Corinthians 4:7 questions, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”

This was the situation with the worldly church at Corinth. The Christians at Corinth were jealous of each other's spiritual gifts.

In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul addresses spiritual gifts and rebukes the people for their jealousy.

The sinful envying is what brought about the carnal strife and painful divisions in their church.

Paul concludes chapter 12 by stating that there is “a more excellent way." (12:31) That way is famously explained in 1 Corinthians 13.

So, how do we overcome jealousy? Are you ready for this?

Secondly, Paul’s antidote to jealousy is LOVE!

1 Corinthians 13 is known as the “love chapter,” and is the “more excellent way.”

Not only must we understand the poisonous potential of jealousy, but in order to overcome jealousy, we must secondly, APPLY the antidote to envy that the Holy Spirit uses Paul to prescribe.

1 Corinthians 13:4 “ (love) envieth not." Love is the kryptonite to the "green-eyed monster."

Matthew 22 gives us the greatest commandment which starts with loving God, and that includes loving God for how He has gifted you.

Remember that God is the one who gives talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts. Therefore, to be jealous of someone else is to accuse God of being unfair.

Love is the antidote to the evils of envy, so love God, but not only that, "love thy neighbor as thyself."

Just as thrilled as you would be to have a particular talent or gift, you should be that thrilled for others who possess that talent or gift. Love them "as thyself."

Love can be a teacher. It teaches us how to cheer for others as they succeed in areas where we may struggle. Let love teach you how to honor and applaud others. Let this Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) teach you how to say "good job" to others and mean it genuinely.

Where love for God and others reigns supreme, there is no room for the wicked and dangerous sin of jealousy.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling jealous, ask God to give you a special love for the person who is the object of your jealousy and take time to praise God for how He has gifted you.

If you'll apply this biblical balm for overcoming jealousy, if you’ll take the more excellent way, then you’ll find yourself enjoying a stronger relationship with God and more rewarding relationships with others.


The above article was written by James C. Johnson and he is the Pastor of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email him at

Every Tuesday, SFL publishes relevant Bible-based content. Check back next Tuesday to read the next SFL article.


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