A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
— Proverbs 14:30
It’s interesting that peace is contrasted with envy in this proverb. We usually think of peace as the opposite of war, strife, disunity, or conflict. Why would the writer contrast peace with envy?
Envy means being deeply resentful toward someone because they have something that you dearly want. Maybe it’s wealth, a fine car, good looks, popularity, power, or some other advantage or privilege that you don’t have. Envy drives people to obsess over their great longing, sometimes even to the point of harming the person who has what they want, or destroying what the person has so that they can’t have it.
A person who is consumed with envy has no peace in their heart. Their inner turmoil can affect their health and well-being so much that, as the proverb says, it “rots the bones.”
As James 3:16-17 puts it, “Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is . . . peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit. . . .”
Full life is found in Jesus alone, who gives us “a heart at peace”—a heart that is content, at rest, and satisfied with whatever good things God has given us to steward and care for.
Loving God, grant me a heart of peace that keeps me from longing for what I don’t have. Help me to serve you with the generous gifts you have given me. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.