Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 24:1
"Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them"
This is a strong proscription against this behavior. This is the same sentiment that is registered in Psalm 73: I was envious of the wicked until I perceived their end.
do not be envious of evil men
The word envious is a very strong word. It is translated zeal when directed toward God. Zeal for Thy House has consumed me. Envy when it is directed toward another person's goods. Jealousy when it is directed toward your own goods.
Notice that there are two prescriptions in this proverb: First, do not be envious of the evil person. Second, do not be desirous of being with them. Both of these actions happen on the inside but can spell disaster for a person.
The word evil in the proverb is equivalent of the word wicked – outside of God's moral boundary structure. His moral boundaries are clearly the Ten Commandments. When you become envious of the person who lives outside of the Ten Commandments, you move into a whole new territory. In fact, you violate the Tenth Commandment in doing this.
To violate the commandment to not covet means that you begin to look at someone else's life – especially the wicked – and want their life rather than exploring the life God has given you. To not explore the gifts, talents, and opportunities that God has given you and instead pine away for a future life that you could not have is coveting.
nor desire to be with them
There is a natural attraction toward the gain of the wicked. It is essential to define some terms as we look at this verse. First is the word desire. This is the Hebrew word avah and means lust, longed, covet, wait longingly. This means that you begin to dream about what life would be like if you were in their shoes. It means that you spend time thinking about ways to be with the people who have all the stuff and power and fame you would like. This hanging out with the wicked will begin to rub off.
How many teenagers have proclaimed to their parents that they would never do the stuff that their new friends are doing? Then one year later they are caught doing the same stuff. You can't hang around with evil people without having evil rub off on you. 1 Corinthians 15 – bad company corrupts good morals.
It is a terrible life to not embrace the opportunities that God has given you and instead keep wishing and hoping for someone else's life. This negative type of wishing and dreaming is even compounded when the type of life that is wished for is evil.
Desiring someone else's life means that we are missing the opportunities that God has presented to us. It means that we are not developing the skills and talents God has given us. It robs someone else of opportunities because we are pursuing things that should be left to others.