Hi this is pastor Ken and I want to thank you for joining me for my Monday Marriage Message…Love does not envy

As we continue on this journey together defining all of the attributes of love from 1 Corinthians 13 we find ourselves at the first descriptor in the negative. In other words, until now they have been framed in a positive direction…love is patient, love is kind. Those are things love does in its display toward others, today we will focus on something God’s word tells us love doesn’t do. Love does not envy.

According to Webster’s dictionary envy is: the feeling of wanting to have what someone else has. it is also defined as: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. Using these definitions then we find that love does not want what others have, and it is not resentful because another enjoys privileges or advantages it does not. Love does not begrudge another to enjoy what it sees lacking for itself.

In our society this definition is incriminating of much we call love. Certainly within marriages and other relationships considered to be loving, envy at least according to this definition absolutely exists. There is no shortage of people who come to my office for counsel who feel that it isn’t fair for them to extend love toward their spouse if the same form of it is not reciprocated. A more outlying example is the envy social media induces when it comes to marriages. I could not count the times those in my office make their spouses acutely aware that so-and-so’s husband or wife does this or that for them. The obvious attempt is to shame their spouse into acting accordingly. The motive for that attempt derives directly from their envy over what love is supposedly providing someone else that they are not enjoying. Newsflash…people lie on social media. Even if they were all telling nothing but the truth…and they are not…godly love, real love, true love, does not envy.

If we look at the original text, the Greek word in this scripture that has been translated to envy is Zelos, it is the origin of our word jealous. It has a connotation of boiling over with envy or jealousy to the point of anger. When we think of times we have seen this attribute displayed in a relationship that is supposed to be loving, or in a marriage, anger is often the result.

Jealousy in and of itself is not problematic when it is the result of broken or threatened faithfulness. God Himself said in Exodus 34:14 that not only is He a jealous God, but that He identifies so closely with it that it is one of His names. In that scripture and others, He gives the command that as a result of His jealousy, we are to have no other Gods above Him. He is a faithful God and requires our faithfulness to have a relationship in good standing with Him. Likewise, jealousy as it pertains to faithfulness in our marriages is not a negative attribute. What the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is warning against is envy or jealousy of the loving actions another receives…and the anger that often results.

Elsewhere in scripture we see these other warnings about envy. James 3:16 says: For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. In this example jealousy is akin to envy. It is desirous of what it does not have or feels that it deserves (because of its selfish ambition) and that results in a disorderly, or what we might call a dysfunctional relationship. Proverbs 14:29-30 goes on to reinforce this truth. In the New Contemporary Version, it says: It’s smart to be patient, but it’s stupid to lose your temper. It’s healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up. Wanting what someone else has or even what we perceive them to have, sows discontent in our hearts. A discontented disposition makes us someone others want to avoid, not draw nearer to. In Exodus chapter 20 the ten commandments as given to Moses by God are recorded. Verse 17 gives the 10th of those commandments. Thou shalt not covet (or be envious). God’s warning is not so much about the action as it is concern about what the action does to us as people. An envious person is not an attractive person. A marriage that must endure an envious attitude about love will soon tire and respond negatively.

Admittedly this is a difficult attribute of Agape love to master. It is easy, some might even argue, natural for us to want what we do not have especially when it seems others are enjoying that very thing. Love, real love however, as we have learned in the past two weeks will be patient and kind even in the face of disappointment.

Questions to answer:

  1. Is envy about the way others are treated by their spouses easy or difficult for you to avoid?
  2. What situations make envy most difficult for you avoid succumbing to?
  3. What can you do to avoid this pitfall in the future?

Actions to take:

  1. Take an inventory of the attributes of love that we have been outlining in this series and note which are easiest for you to display and which are most difficult.
  2. List specific examples of times you have done well and times you wish you had done better.
  3. Ask God help you focus on responding to disappointments in your marriage in ways that will be pleasing to him.

So now, learning to recognize envious thought and choosing contentedness instead…go be awesome