1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The first two behaviors (patience and kindness) were actions we should do to truly begin loving others fully. Now God shifts to a litany of warnings against common mindsets that suck the life out of relationships.
The first one we will explore is ENVY
. It is in my opinion also not a mistake that this is the first negative to love God leads us into, for it is one of the most pervasive and destructive mindets there are.
Envy and jealousy are at the heart of discontentment. We covet what others have by nature. If they have more money, more power, more fame, more happiness, more peace, more joy, more toys, bigger house, better wife, smarter children, better teeth, nicer hair, bigger income, live in a better zip code (add your own example here). Wars, destruction of marriages, tearing apart of families, resentments; so much ugliness in the world is directly related to people wanting what someone else has, people actually believing they deserve it more than another.
One tool I have found very helpful when identifying behavior patterns in myself is to always look at the opposites. So if God says be patient he is warning us not to be impatient. So think of examples of impatience and don't do them. To be kind is much greater than selfish and mean.
So for every negative behavior we must seek possible examples of that in our own actions and then supplant it with the opposite positive behavior. In this case the opposite of envy is gratitude. And again not surprisingly, with jealousy being one of the most debilitating mindsets, gratitude is one of the most liberating and rewarding.
When we come into a deeper relationship with Christ, we learn the true meaning of gratitude. We become incredibly grateful for His son's death on the Cross for it is that one act that gives us life, freedom from the penalty of sin, eternal life in the kingdom. We become fully aware that all creation is from God, from the heavens and earth to our very lives. As we begin to see the beauty in the world and grow stronger in love we become more grateful for the people in our lives and the roof over our head; for the food on our table and the warmth of our bed. (hey, neat rhyme). We can get to a truly fulfilling place of being grateful for everything.
Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
Whether it is hardship that strengthens us, confusion and pain that makes us wiser, trials and testing that gives us endurance, or the moments of great peace and joy when all is calm; it is all gifts from God.
To envy is to be like a selfish child who at one point is perfectly content in the sandbox with his toy airplane until he sees another kid with a toy tractor and looks at his own and no longer sees value in it. He throws it aside and goes over to take the toy away from the other child. Both children end up frustrated, angry, crying, they must be separated, hurt feelings abound.
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
We are to put away childish things. Coveting our neighbors possession is no more mature than a small child chasing shiny objects. We should be happy for the blessings God has given to others. It should be the same level of gratitude that we have for the rewards and blessings God provides each of us every single day.
Gratitude in all things is one of the greatest experiences one can ever hope to attain, for in that comes an incredible sense of completeness, wholeness, fullfillment.
One very simple example I've used in the past to put gratitude in perspective is that instead of comparing ourselves to Bill Gates why don't we compare ourselves to the entire nation of Somalia or Haiti or billions of other starving, homeless, persecuted, suffering, crying and dying people in the world.
We are almost blessed to a fault in America, and we whine that we can't afford the extravagant vacations we used to take or Disneyland passes are too expensive (pathetic examples of my own life) or the waiter put onions on our hamburger or somebody changed lanes too close on the freeway. Really, this is what causes us stress, anger, frustration, discontentment?
No wonder the world looks at us in disgust. We are like fat, rich kings sucking up all the resources around us and never being happy or satisfied, always lusting for increase. When is it enough, when will we truly become grateful for everything?
Luke 6:24-25 But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
We must be very careful, our ungratefulness and envy of others could very well keep us from the kingdom!
Love does not envy, is not jealous, does not covet. Instead love is filled with gratitude. Love is complete in itself; it is the end, not a means to an end. We are not to strive for more happiness or pine for easy sailing or more joy in our life, or increase in the flesh... we are to strive to be more loving and in that we will find the great rewards of happiness, joy, peace, and satisfaction in all that we experience.
What once may have been considered a mundane task can take on great meaning when we bring with intentionality a grateful heart into center stage. There comes great purpose, satisfaction and reward in all things when gratitude truly is the attitude.