Watch Out for Envy

“Not as Cain, who was of the wicked one and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.”

— 1 John 3:12 KJV

Wickedness will sometimes do all it can to suppress righteousness. Jesus said that light has come into the world, but men prefer darkness because their deeds are evil.

Cain was of that wicked one, of Satan, of whom Jesus said that he was a murderer from the beginning and who inspired Cain to his terrible deed of murder. The term that is used in the Greek text for “slew,”—he slew his brother—is an unusual term, and it tells us something about the brutality of the deed that was involved. The term might very accurately be described or translated as “butchered.” The original text means to slit the throat, and apparently Cain did a very thorough job on his brother.

Why did he do it? Because his own works were evil and his brother’s righteous. We see here a horrifying picture of the evil capabilities of the human heart and of the total depravity of man.

Envy had goaded Cain to such a place, because of the fact that the righteousness of his brother was an indictment against him, that he was brought to the place of even killing Abel. Sadly, virtually everyone has experienced at some time or another in his own life the feeling of envy, which, as someone noted, withers at another’s joy, while hating the excellence it cannot reach. Ask God to purify your heart from envy, so it will never take root there.

O Lord, it is hard to understand man’s cruelty to man and when we see evil all around us, we are horrified by it. But when we see the dirty fingerprints of Satan even on our own heart, we shudder and run to You for cleansing…