“Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day… Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.” (Proverbs 23:17; 24:1-2)
According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman who was created by Hephaestus, the god of fire, who was commissioned to do so by Zeus, king of the Greek gods. Supposedly, Zeus commissioned woman’s creation as punishment to men for taking the gift of fire from the gods. She was made to look like the goddess Aphrodite and was given wisdom, beauty, kindness, peace, generosity, and health from the gods. Then, as the myth goes, Zeus brought her to earth to trick Epimetheus, who was warned not to take her as his wife. He rejected the advice after being irresistibly attracted to her. As a wedding present, Zeus gave Pandora a jar but warned her not to open it. However, having been given curiosity when she was created, Pandora couldn’t resist opening the jar (which was mistakenly called a box in the retelling of the myth). Terrible, frightening things flew out of the jar into the world, including such things as pain, hatred, hunger, poverty, envy, greed, war, disease, and death. The only thing remaining in the box was hope. As the myth goes, this is the reason why humans can have hope in a wicked world.
Do you appreciate how this myth lines up with our passages today? We get into trouble when we are tempted by what our hearts envy and desire—that which someone else is enjoying. The greatest struggle for our youth is the temptations that come from their peers.
In Proverbs 24 we are warned not only to not envy what evil people do or have, but we are warned not to spend time with them. Their influence over us will be greater than ours over them. Ah, but what are we to do when we are the ones who are the bad influence and are doing ungodly things? Close the box! Shut it tight! Put away all those tempting things that only lead to violence and trouble.
Unlike the fate of “hope” in the myth, our hope isn’t inside of us but is in the object of our faith, Jesus Christ. This hope is not limited to our ability to hold onto it, governed by our self-discipline. Hope is the fact of eternal life for those who have been purchased by Jesus. It grows and strengthens as it is used; it is not to be kept on a shelf gathering dust to use at some later time. “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” (Psalm 37:1)
Do you worry about missing something because you aren’t trying out all the wild ideas floating in our world today? Will you ask God to give you complete contentment to “continue in the fear of the Lord all the day?”