I Corinthians 13 says Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy. As I have thought about this statement over the past couple of weeks, I have come to realize that “love does not envy” actually means, “love chooses not to envy.” Our flesh will desire things others have, success, material possessions, relationships, etc. But out of love, not neccessarily for that person, but love for God, we choose to be content with what God has given us rather than envious of what another person has.
Many verses in the Bible support the idea that envy is not godly. First, it is the tenth commandment of the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20, God tells us not to covet our neighbor's wife, servants, animals or anything else that he has. Paul talks about contentment in Phillipians 4. He says:
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.
Being able to choose contentment rather than envy comes from to understanding two things. First of all, we must believe that in God's perfect wisdom, He knows are needs and is more than able to provide for our needs. And secondly, we need to understand that envy is simply a perception that what someone else has is better than what you have. Let's take a close look at these two thoughts.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Even if we believe that God can and will provide for our needs, we must wrestle with this question, “Will is choose to be content with what God sees as my need even if I don't get what I want?” Which leads to the second idea that when we envy someone else we are envying what we perceive as something better than what we have. But this is merely perception.
As I was talking about to some single girls about the reality of being married, one said, “I'm so surprised, I thought you must have the perfect life because you are married with two kids.” Granted, I LOVE my life. I love my husband and my kids, but my life isn't perfect. I'm at a different place in life than a single person, not any better, not any worse, just a different place. Although marriage is often perceived as a better place, it isn't. And if God has chosen it for you, that's great! If He hasn't (or at least not yet), that is great, too! Enjoy where you are, don't miss today because you are envious of tomorrow.
The same is true for anything we envy. When we choose to envy we miss out on the moment. We spend our time and energy wishing, hoping, and being jealous of what someone else has. This causes us to miss out on the blessings God has already given us.
What do you envy? (someone else's wealth, possessions, relationships, etc.)
Do you believe that your life would be better if you had those things? If so how and why would it be better?
As you choose not to be jealous of what other people have, you must be content with what you have. What blessing has God given you that you take for granted because you are envying someone or something else?
How can you actively choose contentment over jealousy today? This week? This month?