Envy is best described in how Joseph’s brothers dealt with him. Stephen said, “And the patriarchs, becoming envious [zeo], sold Joseph into Egypt” (Acts 7:9, NKJV). When the brothers saw that their father Jacob loved Joseph more than all of them, they envied and hated him. (Gen. 37:4) The Bible says that they could not speak nicely to him (Gen. 37:4). Such is a mark of envy—when you don’t speak well about somebody.
Why do you strongly envy others? We envy others because they’re more beautiful or more successful or more intelligent than us, don’t we? We envy others because they have something that we don’t have, but desire to have. Usually, the same people in the same boat envy each other. There’s sibling rivalry. Wives dislike other wives. Pastors resent other pastors.
But Paul says, “love does not envy.” The verb, “does not envy” [zeloi] here is a present tense, in the active voice. It is not a repeated characteristic of those who serve in love. Love does not continue to be eager against someone. Love does not repeatedly envy the happiness of other people. Rather, it rejoices in their happiness. It does not constantly resent how the Lord has used others. Instead, it is glad that the Lord has used them so. People who serve others in love will not always complain or murmur that they are not so highly favored. (Barnes) Rather, people who serve with love keep on rejoicing that others are enjoying the favor of God!
Permissions: You may copy/paste or distribute this post in part or in whole, provided that you do not change the words or word order or charge a fee beyond the cost of copying or distributing.
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.