1 ¶ Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. 2 For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
In 23:17 we were told not to envy sinners. Here, we are told not to be envious of evil men nor even have a desire to spend any time with them. We’re given a reason why: because their hearts study destruction and mischief comes from their lips. Worldly men and women, and carnal, flesh obsessed Christians love famous people, important people. Whether it an entertainment celebrity or a political leader or even a captain of industry we are often very impressed with the credentials, the charisma, and the power.
Someone like a Warren Buffet or a Bill Gates easily becomes the focus of discussion when the rich and powerful are brought up in conversation. But, are we, as Christians to hold them in high regard? Our focus is to be on Christ, living for Him and spreading His words to a lost world crying out in agony on the one hand and glorying in their own death and destruction on the other.
Now, I’m not meaning to call Buffet or Gates as necessarily evil or more evil than any other person. The evil man might not be very famous. He or she might be your friend or close relative. They are the person who sits around planning and plotting their own devices, with nary a thought of God’s will or concern about God’s standards. They might even call themselves a Christian, all the while their heart studying destruction and their lips talking mischief.
The important thing for the Christian is to not desire to be like them and to avoid, at all costs, being around them. They can only bring you down, harm your testimony for Christ, and perhaps destroy your life. Whether it be the lady in church who likes to gossip about others, sometimes even with them in the vicinity (please save your running me down for when I’m not here) or the brother in the next pew over who has some kind of scheme figured out on how to cheat the tax man. Stay away from them.
Over the last forty years I have heard countless foolproof plans, brilliant schemes, and great ideas from various people and have even come up with a few myself. A warning light should go off in your head when someone tries to tell you about something they’ve been thinking about that doesn’t line up right with this Bible.
We are told to quietly work with our own hands;
1Thessalonians 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
To serve God with our minds and bodies;
Colossians 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
To serve each other;
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Basically, it’s pretty simple. In the letters written by Paul to the churches, the doctrine for us today, there are no complicated formulas for ritualistic devotion. We are called to live lives uncomplicated by craftiness, scheming, secret plotting, treachery, and betrayal. That’s for the world, not for us. Leave political wrangling and tricky plans outside the church door. Avoid evil people who sit and plot and study destruction and speak mischief. Focus on the word of God and don’t be envious of evil men, either on the faraway world stage or nearby, even among the body of believers. Stay away from anyone with any agenda but to save souls out of a burning Hell, away from a fallen world, and to show Christ in our everyday lives.