“Love does not envy.”
At long last, the Love Jam series continues! It’s been over a month since the previous installment, largely due to the fact that momentous events transpiring in my personal life combined with several weeks of ongoing illness (I literally caught the flu from hell) rendered my abilities to focus on blogging severely limited. But here I am, and this time around the topic is very interesting.
I must admit, I’ve had a bit of a hard time discerning where I should go with the concept of envy. The Greek word zeloo suggests connotations of jealousy, covetousness, and “heat” in the sense of negative emotions against someone, or indignation. Interestingly enough, the same word can also imply, in different contexts, to be zealous in the pursuit of good or to earnestly desire something.
Perhaps therein lies the dilemma. We often start out a quest to obtain something desirable with good intentions. We want to be honest, caring, and “do the right thing”. We usually don’t premeditate a path of envy and jealousy! The problem lies in our fallen sin nature. What begins as a noble pursuit often ends up in bitter strife. We begin to covet what others have that we do not, or we allow anger to rise up inside of us when we see others’ successes amidst our own failures. We want things to come easy, and when they don’t, we aren’t content to wait our turn.
Here’s another way to look at envy. Do you remember ever having a really miserable day — feeling lousy with a pile of work to do — and then some friend or family member comes along and describes all the fun they’ve been having or will be having and how awesome everything is? What is your reaction? Do you want to say “that’s great, I’m so happy for you! Rock on!” or do you feel like slamming their head against a brick wall? Hmm, maybe it’s just me. Usually when I’m feeling miserable, I want everyone else to join me in my misery. How dare they feel great! How dare they have fun when I’m going through hell!
In very close relationships (best friends or man/woman), jealousy can often sneak up on you when you least expect it. A little perceived slight here, a little rebuff there, a little too much attention paid to a personal annoyance, and you can find yourself falling into a dangerous pit of hostility towards the other person. What’s wrong with you? How come you’re spending so much time focusing on [fill in the blank] when you should be focusing on ME! Aren’t I the most important thing going?
The Apostle Paul says that love does not envy. Rather, love honors someone else’s successes and accomplishments, even when you feel like a failure. Love cherishes someone else’s blessings and possessions, even when you feel like you have nothing. Love appreciates and respects someone else’s priorities, pastimes, and pursuits, even when you feel like they take attention away from yourself.
Love gives the other person room to be themselves. To be who God created them to be. Love celebrates the other person — even at your own expense. I want to be someone who honors others, and that’s why I have to be vigilant to ensure that in my zeal and my desire to pursue good things, I don’t give way to the negative side of those passions.
“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”