Love Does Not Envy

Green with envy

Green with envy

We’ve looked into the Emptiness of Serving Without Love. The apostle Paul taught that using your spiritual gifts without love is nothing (1 Cor. 13:3). Charismatic gifts without the Christian graces gain nothing. We also looked into the Fullness of Serving with Love. Serving people with love gains everything. This is what Paul calls, the “more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31, NKJV).

Note that according to the apostle, it is not the spectacular spiritual gifts that make your ministry a fully spiritual ministry.  The Corinthian church was a charismatic church, overflowing with charismatic gifts.  But Paul urged them to seek the “more excellent way” of ministry with love.  Because even though they possessed the gifts, they lacked the graces.  He did not prescribe more gifts, but more love with the gifts.  It is the fullness of divine love that makes your ministry spiritual, not the gifts.  Hence, the mark of a truly spiritual church is not whether you practice speaking in tongues and prophesy or not, but whether you love one another–including the unlovable–with agape love, in the enabling power of the Spirit.

What makes the fullness of your ministry is the practice of agape love, which Paul describes both Positively and Negatively.  We already studied the Positive Qualities of Love in 1 Cor. 13:4-7. In this post, we will dig deeper into the Negative Qualties of Love. There are 8 “Nots” of Biblical, God-ordained love.

1st, “love does not envy” (v. 4, ESV). The word, “envy,” is from the root, zeloo, which generally means, “to be eager for, or anxious for” (Barnes). It is where we get our English words, “zeal” or “zealous.” Now you can be eager for someone. You can be zealous for someone. But to envy is to be eager against someone (Barnes); “be jealous (of)” (Concise Greek-English Dictionary, s. v. ζηλοι); “to experience strong envy and resentment against someone” (Greek-English Lexicon, s. v. ζηλοι). It comes from a root word, zeo, “to boil” (RWP); “to be hot” (Strong, s. v. ζηω). The picture here is boiling water. Have you seen a hot iron? The iron is so hot that it glows in the fire. That’s what zeo means. And so it is with envy. You boil, burn, and glow with dislike against somebody.

It does not mean romantic jealousy or protective, loving jealousy. When you are jealous of your relationship with each other, you don’t want anyone to pull it apart. Such jealousy protects your relationship from predators. But this kind of envy is a strong resentment and eagerness against someone.

Love does not envy.

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Disclaimer:  I’ve tried to give credit to whom credit is due.  If there is any original thought or reference which I failed to footnote, please call my attention.  Once validated, it will be corrected immediately.

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