A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot. – Proverbs 14:30
Some call it a psychosomatic disease. Another way to say it is, “It’s all in your head.” The truth is, lots of diseases are rooted in our hearts. In this proverb, a tranquil heart is contrasted with a heart of envy. This word envy also indicates jealousy or passion (in the negative sense). When we find ourselves all worked up over someone else’s prosperity or success, we are contributing to the “rottenness of our bones.” That prosperity or success can be financial, career, social life or just about any other area of life.
By contrast, the tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, that is, it contributes to our good health. It improves our immune systems. It will help overcome attacks of viruses and bacteria. One who has a tranquil heart will have fewer colds than they would have if they had an envious heart. I would even apply this to more extreme situations and say that a tranquil heart will help battle cancer, it is life to the flesh. Remember, Proverbs is practical wisdom from God and is founded on the fear of God. It is not just “spiritual” talk. God’s wisdom has very practical implications for our lives.
A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22
The word “tranquil” in Proverbs 14:30 carries the idea of healing, cure, health, sound (mind). A joyful heart is good medicine.
How does one obtain a tranquil heart?
First, recognize that a heart of envy or jealousy is a sinful heart. We have to do away with the excuses that we come up with to rationalize or side-step the condition of our hearts. We can easily claim that we were mistreated and overlooked for that promotion claiming injustice in the workplace in our attempt to justify our jealousy and envy. The truth is, we didn’t get the promotion, and we can either be jealous or resigned to the providence of a sovereign God and understand he has a different plan for us for the time being.
The treatment for sin-sickness is always the same. The wages of sin is death and Jesus took upon himself my sin and the consequences of that sin when I confess my sin and place my trust in him. I have to be honest with God about the condition of my heart. Then, when I pray for a tranquil healing heart he is free to give it to me.
My vision must then become the supreme beauty of Jesus Christ. My delight is in the Lord. A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. It is Jesus who bore all of my pains in his suffering, both physical and emotional.
Surely he has borne our griefs (pains)
and carried our sorrows (sicknesses);
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted. – Isaiah 53:4
He has borne our emotional griefs and pains so we can be freed from them. He has forgiven us, so we are able now to forgive those for whom we hold jealousy and envy. This is the path to a tranquil heart and a merry heart. We only find contentment when we find our satisfaction in Christ and his sovereign love for us and the path of our lives.