Envy – a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.1
[Love] does not envy… (1 Corinthians 4:13c, NIV)
“That is so great Victoria! Congratulations!”
“Thanks, Gina! I can’t believe it has finally happened! I’ve been looking forward to this for so long!”
“I am so happy for you and your family! Victoria, I can’t believe it! This is going to be a great journey for all of you!”
“Thank you. And…I’m sorry, Gina. I know how much you want this too.”
“No! Don’t! My time will come. For now we celebrate your good news!”
We all have, at some point, experienced feelings of jealousy and envy. But how do we respond to the feelings? In the example above, Victoria received good news that Gina would have loved to receive. Instead of wallowing in jealousy and envy, Gina is happy for her friends, rejoicing with her.
For the first time in our study this year, we are looking at something that love is not. Love does not envy. Envy is the opposite of the love. In describing love, why did Paul feel it was important to include what love is not? By pointing out what love is not, Paul clearly identifies a sin which everyone has committed. Think of a time in your life when you were envious of someone. A neighbor? A co-worker? A family member? An acquaintance? A stranger?
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17, NIV)
You shall not covet is one of the 10 Commandments. Envy is coveting what is not yours. God is commanding us to be content with what He has given us. When we experience feelings of jealousy and envy – and we will because we live in a sinful world! – we have a choice to make: we can wallow in that envy and allow it to consume us, or we can show love.
A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.
(Proverbs 14:30, NIV)
If we allow envy to consume us, it will destroy us from within. It will warp our perceptions and how we think. It can lead to anger, depression, self-pity, and bitterness. It can adversely affect our relationships with our spouses, children, family, loved ones, and friends. We become consumed with what we decide we should have, instead of using what we have for the glory of the Lord. Envy will lead us away from our relationship with the Lord, as we will not be content with what we have been given.
17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. (Matthew 27:17-18, ESV)
Envy led the religious leaders of Jesus’ day astray. Envy led the religious leaders to hand over Jesus Christ to be executed. Pilate recognized the motive behind the actions of the religious leaders in Jerusalem. The motive was envy, self-interest. The Pharisees and Sadducees were envious of the crowds Jesus could draw, envious of the knowledge He possessed, envious of the truth He spoke. Envy can lead any person down a dark path, resulting in them committing sins they never though possible. When we instead choose to be like Gina, showing love for those we could envy, we are able to find joy, happiness, and peace.
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” (1 Peter 2:1,NIV)
In order to find that joy, happiness, and peace, in order to show true and complete love, we must first rid ourselves of the envy we are feeling. It can be hard. It can require hours in prayer. It may be something you struggle with your entire life, but the more you turn to the Lord and reject envy, the easier it becomes. By rejecting envy, we allow room for love, for celebrating other’s good news and opportunities. And only by rejecting envy, will God’s love be able to fill our hearts, allowing us to show God’s love to the world!
Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy…
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