The first two things Paul starts with that show what love is. Right after those…patient and kind…he starts a briefing on what love does not do.
Enter, envy. It supposedly makes the envious one green. Well, being sick to your stomach is supposed to make you green. Does envy make you feel like ya gotta hurl? Not sure that is the case. People have “green thumbs” – do their thumbs envy the plants? No…don’t think so.
Jealousy vs. Envy
Many think envy and jealousy mean the same thing and interchange the words regularly. A guy likes a car someone has and wishes he could have it and can be accused of being envious, when in fact he is simply a little jealous. Some people are quick to point out how God says He is a “jealous God” and question how that can be if jealousy is wrong. Jealousy is a normal emotion. Envy, however, has a mean, selfish bent to it.
Jealousy is usually borne out of someone having or taking what is rightfully yours or just has something you want. Someone flirts with your spouse, it is normal to be jealous. It is normal to be jealous when someone has gotten a new car and you have been wanting or even needing to get one. Kept in check, jealousy is a normal, human reaction.
Envy is a bit uglier. Envy says that you want what someone else has, to the point that you don’t want them to have it. It not only wants what others have, but wants it only and all for itself. Envy is a thief, a taker. Envy does not delight in the blessings of others, but wants all the blessings for itself.
This shows to be contradictory to the previous two aspects of love. An envious person is certainly not patient and definitely not kind. He is all about himself. He does not want to wait to get his own, he wants what you have and will find a way for you not to have it or to give it up. It could be an item, a promotion, a friend…if he wants it, he will go after it and make sure you won’t have it. Seems like it is kin to evil desire or lust…does it not?
Envy is also not so good for the envious one…Proverbs 14:30, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
Yeah, that’s a slightly strong metaphor, but the point is clear – envy can eat away at a person. It involves bitterness, which adds stress, which is not good for a person either mentally or physically.
Here we are, followers of Christ. His every motivation is based on love. If we want to love as He loves, there should be no room for envy. Love is about others, while envy is about me.
Me, me, me, me, me, me.
I want, I want, I want, I want, I want.
What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.
Love puts “I” and “me” out of the way. When we so desire something someone else has, that does not belong to us, so much so that we do not want them to have it, self is in front and in charge.
Love puts self on the shelf.