Love Is… Not envious

This morning, we continue our message series helping us to better understand and live out unconditional love.

This series is entitled, “Love Is” and it is based on that familiar passage found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. 

We were created by God with the need for love that can only be expressed through relationships.

As there are different types of relationships, there are different types of love.  There is, however, a type of love that we are to express toward anyone and everyone.  In fact, the Bible teaches that if we learn how to express this type of love toward God and others, that we will entirely fulfill all that God’s law requires of us. 

This distinct type of love is the love that God has for us.  In the Greek language, it is the word agape.  It is this type of unconditional love that we’ll be covering through this message series.

To be able to possess and express this unconditional love, we’re going to break it down into parts as Paul chose to do in his letter to the Corinthians.  He taught all about spiritual gifts and said that it is not using these gifts that truly matters, but how we choose to use them, our motive, that matters to God.  We can do all sorts of good things for God, but if we do not do them as an expression of God’s love, then they are pointless, useless, and meaningless.

1 Corinthians 13:1-4

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  14 Love is patient, love is kind.   It does not envy…

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines envy as “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.”  It is caused when we begin to embark on that slippery slope temptation to compare.

In a few translations, the word jealous is used instead of envy.  However, there is a subtle yet very significant difference between jealousy and envy.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines jealousy as “vigilance in guarding a possession.” 

If a wife is being ignored while her husband sits next to her on the couch staring at his phone, she is jealous of his attention, but not envious.  Jealousy is longing for something that is truly and rightfully ours that we’re being denied.  Envy is longing for something that belongs to another and is not ours.  This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever possess it, but for now, whatever that thing may be, it is not yet ours.

Exodus 34:14

Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

God even named Himself jealous and there is no doubt about it that He is a jealous God.  When we spend our heart, mind, soul, and strength on created things that God created instead of on Him, the Creator, He gets jealous.  After all, those things rightfully belong to Him.  God gets jealous, but He never gets envious.

Love is jealous, but love does not envy.

We may wish that we had someone else’s car or home or career or anointing.

We may wish that we had a spouse, parent, or child who was more like someone else’s.

We may wish that we had someone else’s personality or appearance or height or health.

We may wish that we were able to respond to situations the way that someone else does.

Envy; the painful or resentful awareness with a desire to possess.

We may even compare us to our own selves leading to regret.

We may wish that we hadn’t done that or maybe long to have done that.

We may wish that we hadn’t said that or maybe long to have just one more opportunity to say that.

We may wish that we would have made a better choice.

We may wish that we would have taken that word of advice after all.

Envy; painful or resentful awareness.

Love does not envy.

When we begin to compare ourselves to others or dwell on regrets, it does not take long for envy to set in.  We soon begin to break one of the ten commandments and start to covet what is not ours.  It is sinful human nature to want what we do not have.  It is even sinful human nature to want what we cannot have. 

What we need to understand is that there is a reason and a purpose for why we do not possess that yet.  We need to trust God’s timing and God’s process in giving and taking away.  We can ask God for those things, but we ultimately must trust Him when it comes to receiving it.

Otherwise envy becomes a deadly passion within us.  It consumes us.  That desire to have whatever it is that we don’t have grows and grows dangerously until we’re willing to give up anything or to do anything in order to possess it.  It was in this envy and miserable state of wanting to receive God’s promise in our own timing that brought about the birth of Ishmael.  God’s promise was true that he would become a great nation, but he would be a wild donkey of a nation always making war against everyone.  It’s always better to trust in God’s timing and patiently wait upon Him.

Jesus gave us this perspective regarding envy:

Matthew 16:26

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Although we tend to focus on adults, our envious attitudes and behaviors begin from, well…, our very beginning! 

Observe two toddlers playing.  One throws a fit because it just has to have the toy that the other one is playing with.  Now that they have that toy for themselves, they throw it aside after five seconds of playing with it and they now want yet another toy that the other one just happens to be playing with.  Right?

Observe that little girl on the playground playing with her best friend since Kindergarten.  When a new girl starts at the school and then becomes best friends with that same girl and her attention becomes divided, watch envy set into that friendship.  Envy focuses on self and not at all toward the benefit of others.  Instead of rejoicing with those who rejoice, it curses those who rejoice.

How often do we still pretty much act the same way in our relationships?

Envy, the painful or resentful awareness with a desire to possess.  As Queen famously sang:

I want it all

I want it all

And I want it now

Love does not envy.

We want it all and we want it now and we’re willing to take whatever shortcuts we can to obtain our desires.  Observe the person standing in front of that green and yellow lottery machine or penny slot machine spending money that they can’t afford to lose in the high hopes and expectation of winning big.  Of course, they plan to help out their families and give generously to those in need once they do hit the multi-million dollar jackpot.

Proverbs 13:11 (NLT)

Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears;

    wealth from hard work grows over time.

We are all prone to envy; every single one of us.  It can seep into any area of our lives at any time.  It cloaks itself well and waits for just the right time and just the right seemingly good motive to pounce on us.  It masks itself with good intentions and even reasonable and legitimate needs initially, but it never remains that quiet.  It grows quickly with the attempt to ensnare us and drag us as far as we can possibly go.  Envy doesn’t care about the collateral damage and seems to actually rejoice in causing as much destruction as possible.

Love does not envy.

What is the solution to envy? 

1. Contentment

Nothing puts a stake through the heart of the green-eyed monster than choosing to keep your eyes on your own paper and being content with what you have. 

1 Timothy 6:6-11

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  11 But you, man (and woman) of God, flee from all this…

Godliness with contentment is gain.  Love does not envy.

2. Thankfulness

Nothing unleashes the blessings of God and also blesses the heart of God more so than when we choose to be thankful for what we do have.  Thankfulness causes us to praise our God and shake off the snare and shackles of envy.  No matter our circumstances, there is always, always something that we can find to give thanks for!

1 Thessalonians 5:18

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Let’s be honest, though.  There are times in life when you are so overwhelmed by what you are facing that you are having a hard time finding something to be thankful for.  What do we do then?

1 Chronicles 16:34

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

We choose to life our eyes up to God from whom our help comes from.  If we look around and see everything in 3D, you know, despair, disappointment, and dismay, let’s stop looking around and start looking up.  If we can’t see anything good when we look around us, let’s start by looking up at how awesome our God is.  Let’s start praising Him because His love endures forever and NOTHING can stop it!  Let’s start praising Him because He is good. 

Let’s first put God into clear focus in our lives and then begin to look around at everything else that we’re facing. 

All of the sudden, Goliath starts to look puny.  All of the sudden, Legion starts looking like a free man.  All of the sudden, hope swallows up our fear and uncertainty and we begin to see that there is nothing to difficult for our God!  All of the sudden, we start taking authority over our problems instead of them pushing us around and controlling us like a bull by the nose ring!  All of the sudden, we find FREEDOM!

Love does not envy.

Let’s shake off the shackles of envy and get ourselves re-focused and re-centered.  Whatever Jesus has entrusted us with, whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in, there is a reason and a purpose for it.  Let’s be content in them.  Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and choose to praise Him with thankfulness no matter our circumstances. 

As we do, He will certainly bring about miraculous transformation!  He will first transform us and our perspectives and our hearts.  Then, everything else will follow suite and we will see the work of God firsthand gaining for us better than anything we could think, ask, or imagine!

Love does not envy!