Proverbs 23:17

ESV Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.
NIV Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.
NASB Do not let your heart envy sinners, But live in the fear of the Lord always.
CSB Don't let your heart envy sinners; instead, always fear the Lord.
NLT Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the Lord.
KJV Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

What does Proverbs 23:17 mean?

Among Satan's most effective tricks is making people think they are "missing out" by following God's instructions. This was the basic temptation Satan used against Eve. He fooled her—and she convinced Adam—into thinking their Creator's rules were keeping them from something better (Genesis 3:1–7). Of course, that was a lie. When Adam and Eve fell to temptation, they brought misery and death on themselves and all humanity. Today, the same form of temptation exists; Solomon calls it when the heart "envies" those who commit sin.

Much of the book of Proverbs explains the real-world dangers of sin. Addiction, poverty, violence, shame, sickness and even death are heightened risks for those making immoral choices (Proverbs 8:33–36; 13:21). Worse, of course, is that those who reject God face an eternity of loss (Proverbs 10:16; 11:4; 16:4). God's ways are better, and His benefits greater, than anything the world can offer (Ephesians 1:3–14; Colossians 3:1–4; 1 Peter 1:3–12). Those who embrace this will at least be secure in eternity, and most likely have better outcomes in this life, as well (Proverbs 1:33). True wisdom starts with reverent respect for God (Proverbs 1:7): the "fear of the LORD." The advice given here echoes some of the earliest and most fundamental themes of the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 1:10).

In Psalm 73, Asaph is faced with this temptation of envy. This almost caused him to make shipwreck of his faith (Psalm 73:2–3). He was bitter over the way God-deniers seemed to have trouble-free, healthy lives. However, his reverence for the Lord drove him to the sanctuary of God. There, he was reminded of the ultimate, dreadful future of all sinners (Psalm 73:16–20). In the sanctuary he also came to his senses and realized how blessed he was to have God's presence, protection, provision, and providential care (Psalm 73:21–28). Proverbs 1:10 says, "My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent." It is good to recognize that what believers have in Christ is far more valuable than the fleeting value of the things of this world (Proverbs 23:18).
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