Today’s post is a continuation of my previous series on love, based off 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Today is about how love does not envy. Here are the Scriptures again, in case you need a refresher.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Honestly, I’ve written about love many times over the years using these exact verses. In fact, I can feel in my spirit that once I finish my first novel, I need to write a book on love based on these verses.
But for now, let’s continue on with: what is envy and why is it bad?
Webster’s Dictionary defines envy as a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck (1) and desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else) (2)
So, when you envy, not only are you lusting after something that someone else has, you are also discontented with what you have. Why is this so bad?
Well, let’s keep it simple. Is envy a good feeling? It isn’t for me. I hate not feeling content with my life and my possessions. I hate always wanting more or resenting that someone else’s life seems easier. It isn’t an enjoyable way to live my life.
Does envy get us what we want? 95% of the time, the answer is no. We envy people, lust after what they have, but that doesn’t give us what we want. And God certainly won’t bless us if we are envying others and not living a contented life. The 5% of the time we do get something from envy is when we either take it from the person (stealing or adultery if you are envious of someone’s spouse), or we push ourselves to work hard enough to get it. The thing is, in either case, we end up not wanting it after we get it. That’s because God didn’t place that object or person in our hearts – we did, or the enemy did. If we pursue things that aren’t of God, we are never going to find peace, contentment, and joy.
On the other hand, we have contentment. Contentment is the opposite of envy. The Bible has a lot to say on contentment, especially in the New Testament.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
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 richfall 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. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
The basic premise of all these Scriptures is that God wants us to be content because everything we have comes from Him. When we envy after things, we’re basically slapping God in the face, saying that what He has given us just isn’t worthy. We need more! We refuse to be happy until we have this other item, this other person. God has given us our life, our breath, our salvation – He isn’t required to give us anything. But He chooses to bless us anyway. I think it’s important to see envy from God’s perspective, not our own.
Some final thoughts. Being content doesn’t mean that we want to stay in the same situation we’re in right now. We should always want to grow, to mature, to be our best, to do God’s will. Our lives will never stay stagnant if we are following Christ effectively. Being content means that we enjoy our lives right now, that we see the everyday blessings. As Joel Osteen has said many times, if God wanted you to have something, you would have it. If He hasn’t given it to you, you don’t need it – or at least, you don’t need it at this time in your life.
Let’s enjoy our lives right now, smile at the little things, and realize how blessed we truly are!
Continuing the series: