This is the third installment in this series on love.
When Peter stood with the rest of the Apostles on the day of Pentecost and preached the first sermon of the newly opened dispensation of grace, he spoke about Jesus and who He was, why He came, and what was to happen next. In his entire short sermon, Peter never once used the word ‘love’. However, love was all over his words. It was God’s love for His creation that brought about the events on the hill called Golgotha. It was love for mankind that held Him to the cross. It was love that restrained His lips from calling out to twelve legions of angels to rescue Him. It was love that called Judas a ‘friend’ after his kiss of identification betrayed Jesus.
We cannot be the Children of God and not have love. The Word asks how we can love God whom we have not seen if we do not love our brothers whom we have seen. Love is a foundational part of serving God. Love floods the life of the new convert as, for the first time in their lives; they feel pure and unadulterated love. It is a love without any ulterior motive. It is a completely giving love.
It is only once we understand and experience this type of love that we can truly love as we were intended to love. I do not seek to undervalue anyone’s love for their spouse or children. However, human love is tainted by humanity. The very nature within us that yearns to be loved, corrupts the love we covet and express. It is not a criticism of human love, but merely an observation. This is not a jaded observation. It is an observation having felt and experienced that ‘agape’ love of God, firsthand.
John said it in simplicity. “For God so loved ..”
Paul said in his first letter to the church at Corinth, “Though I speak with tongues; though I prophesy; though I understand mysteries and all knowledge; though I have faith to move mountains; though I give all my goods to the poor; though I give my body to be burned; if I don’t have love, it profits me nothing.”
To this end, to understand God’s love that we must manifest, he tells us that love suffers long. Love is kind.
- Does not envy
By definition, Envy (also called invidiousness) is best defined as an emotion that "occurs when a person lacks another's (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it.” (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology)
"Envy" and "jealousy" are often used interchangeably, but in correct usage, they stand for two different distinct emotions. In proper usage, jealousy is the fear of losing something that one possesses to another person (a loved one in the prototypical form), while envy is the pain or frustration caused by another person having something that one does not have oneself. Usually envy involves wanting the beauty, wealth, or socioeconomic status of another individual. Envy and jealousy result from different situations and are distinct emotional experiences.(1) Both envy and jealousy are etymologically related to schadenfreude, the rejoicing at, or taking joy in, or getting pleasure from the misfortunes of others. (2)(3)
(1)Smith, Richard H. and Kim, Sung Hee. Psychological Bulletin, 2007, Vol. 133, No. 1, 46-64.)
(2)Bailey, Nathan (1737). Universal Etymological English Dictionary. London,
(3) Bailey, Nathan (1751). Dictionarium Britannicum. London.)
Love does not envy. How is it that love does not envy?
Love rejoices in the blessings of others without feeling pangs of coveting. Allow me to explain the difference between wanting and coveting. It is fine for you to want the blessings that others have. Coveting is when you want not the same blessings, but the actually blessing. You want it at their expense. You want it to be taken from them and given to you. This is coveting. Coveting is the cousin of envy. Envy is the desire to have something even at the expense of others not having it. It is a fine line. It is a line that love keeps us from crossing.
Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
He was telling the church at Galatia that there were carnal things about him that had to be crucified. He had to keep under his body and bring it into subjection. In his letter to the church at Corinth, which we have been reading from, he tells them that there is carnality among them and this carnality is leading to envying and strife. I can tell you, where there is envying, there will be strife. There will be a contentious spirit. There will be a spirit which works against the spirit of love. God’s love does not allow for envying.
James 4:5 “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?”
James clearly tells us that being human is to be envious. It is a part of our natures that must be brought into subjection by the Spirit of God.
Countless philosophers and poets have spent time and words trying to surmise the meaning or definition of love. Untold numbers of young and old hearts alike have tried in vain to express the depths of their love to their lifelong mate or their flame of the week, but to no avail. I will not pretend to understand the depths and heights of love. I will tell you that the Word is clear. God is love.
Paul stated in the earlier quoted scripture, that he, his humanity which seeks to know love and fails, must be crucified with Christ. The life he now lives, at the time of the writing, he lives through Christ, and it is this living, that allows him to know love, and to live above envy.
- There is much said in the Bible about envy.
"We are jealous of our own; we are envious of another man's possessions. Jealousy fears to lose what it has; envy is pained at seeing another have" (Crabb's English Synonyms)
The power of envy is stated in Proverbs 27.4: "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?”
It is one thing to play with fire when you reasonably think you can harness the power and control the destructive nature of it. We do it all the time in the natural. We have harnessed the power of fire and use it to heat our homes. We use it to create electrical power by producing steam to turn large turbines at power plants. It is another thing all together to try to play with something over which one has no control. Someone wisely stated in a song many years ago that sin will take you father than you want to go. The same is true of envy. Solomon warns us that it is a hard thing to stand before envy.
Its evil effects are depicted in Job 5.2 “For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.” Proverbs 14.30 tells us “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.”
Do you see the attempt of Solomon again as he tells us that envy is the rottenness of the bones? He wants us to know that envy attacks the core of our being. It is not a light scratch to be treated with Neosporin and a Band-Aid. It is not something that will heal itself in time. It is a deep penetrating wound that will destroy the vessel which foolishly seeks to contain it. It requires a radical operation of the Spirit of God. It requires the Sword of the Spirit, the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Envy is simply one of the things that love is not. It is everything that love is not. Envy, unchecked will lead to hatred and the death of a soul.
Envy and jealousy led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 27.18 “For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.”
Mark 15.10 “For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.”
It is one of "the works of the flesh"
19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul states in his letter to the church at Rome that in his flesh is no good thing. Whatever goodness is in him is by and through the Spirit of God that dwells within him. He says that he sees a law in that his flesh wars against his spirit. He further states as quoted above, that he keep under his body and brings it into subjection, lest when he has preached to other, he might become a castaway. These works of the flesh, he warns us against. One of the works he warns us about is envying.
28. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29. Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30. Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31. Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32. Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Telling the church at Rome about those that don’t like to keep God in their knowledge Paul declared they will be given over to a reprobate mind. Paul is stating that those whom God dealt with continually, but just a continually rejected the knowledge of God, He turned away from their mind and no long sent His conviction to rend their hearts. They would no longer be convicted in their heart for the wrong doing that would damn their souls. He declared they would be filled with unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, and maliciousness. They would be full of envy, which would lead to murders, debates, deceit, malignity and whisperings. The love that comes from above does not envy. It is the work of the flesh. It is the ingredient and product of the reprobate mind.
Christian believers are earnestly warned against envying.
Romans 13.13 “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.”
1 Corinthians 3.3 “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”
1st Peter 2:1 “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,”
In Kings, Ahab the king envied the vineyard of Naboth. He sought to buy it, but Naboth, being bound by the Word of God to never sell that which was given to him by God, refused. Ahab pouted and his wife, Jezebel conceived a plan to gain the vineyard of Ahab’s envy. She set in motion plans and hired liars to bring about the stoning death of Naboth. Once he was dead, Ahab laid claim to the vineyard of his desire.
God spoke to Elijah to go to Ahab and to tell him that his and his wife’s evil did not go unseen. He accused him of the murder of Naboth. God spoke through Elijah to tell Ahab that the dogs would lick up his blood in the same spot where that licked up the blood of Naboth. He further said that the dogs would also eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
These actions and judgments were the consequences of envy. Envy led Ahab down a path that led to his own destruction. When we are envious, we are aiding Satan in the destruction of our own soul. Envy is a poison that is as dangerous or more so to the vessel that contains it than the object of the envy.
Love does not envy.
It would be easy to stop here and state emphatically that the Bible clearly tells us that ‘envy’ is part of the works of the flesh and must be abandoned by the believers. No good thing comes from envy. It is commonly associated with strife in the Word of God. Where you read that there is envy, there is also strife.
The questions are: How do we recognize envy in its early stages? And how do we stop it?
As stated in the beginning of this Study, envy is the desire to have at the expense of others. It is the emotion we feel when we perceive that someone has something, physical or otherwise, that we desire or wish they lacked. Aristotle defined envy as ‘the pain caused by the good fortune of others’. Envy is the improper equalizer.
As I have spoken in times past about the phrase ‘Whosoever Will” in how ‘whosoever’ is the great equalizer. When God spoke and said, “Whosever will, let him come,” He made us all equal. One’s health has no bearing on the call of God; nor does one’s wealth or social standing. We are all equal at the foot of the cross. Envy seeks to equalize by tearing down the good fortune or just rewards of others.
Love rejoices in the good fortune of others whether we enjoy the sane fortune or not. Love rejoices in the blessings of others. Envy recognizes that the blessing may not be legally wrought by the person envying and therefore begrudges the blessings of others.
When you hear of the blessings of others, and there is that tinge of anger because it didn’t happen to you, you are in the primary stage of envy.
Paul said that he was content in whatever state he found himself. There is nothing wrong with wanting more out of life. There is nothing wrong with a work ethic born of wanting more in life. Earning a day’s wage for a day’s work is one of the foundations of a healthy self esteem. I do not want to infer that envy only happens to those of low self esteem. It can happen to anyone that is not safeguarding against it. We must be ever vigilant against the works of the flesh.
How do we stop it?
Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ.” He stated, “I keep under my body. I bring it under subjection.” We have to allow the love of God to lead us to the place where we can be victorious. That is not always the place we want to be. The Bible tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He fasted for forty day and nights and was tempted by the devil.
We must be willing to be led to the place where God can minister to us and make the changes necessary. We must be willing to be on the potter’s wheel. There are times that we must be broken by the love of God. We must be remade. When we are remade in the image of Christ, we will put envy away.
Envy creates a false face and anything false is a lie. God is the truth. A lie is the opposite of truth and therefore the opposite of God and His Will. There is a word we use to express our honesty. That word is ‘sincere’. When we claim we are being sincere, we are claiming to be dealing truthfully in our emotion. The word ‘sincere’ is reported to come from two Latin words, ‘sin’ and ‘crescere’; ‘Sin’ meaning ‘one’ and ‘crescere’ meaning ‘to grow’. This is taken to mean ‘one growth, or not mixed. This means ‘pure’ Envy is a convoluted emotion. It presents as one thing and a completely different thing smolders beneath. Envy is like flattery. Flattery is false praise. Praise is truth. Flattery is the lie. Envy is false sincerity.
Love does not wear the face of sincerity and harbor envy in its heart. This is not the love that the Child of God possesses. If your heart is filled with envy, it cannot be filled with love. If your heart is filled with love, it cannot be filled with envy.
The Word tells us that where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work. (James 3.16) Everything is unsettled and agitated. There is no mutual confidence; there is no union of plan and effort; there is no co-operation in promoting a common object; there is no stability in any plan; for a purpose, though for good, formed by one portion, is defeated by another. Envying is the enemy of ‘one growth’.
Love does not envy.
Next: Love does not vaunt itself.