Lately, I have been exclusively in the Apostle John’s writings, in my personal readings, my blog writing, and my time with my wife.
John reiterates one theme, over and over again in my opinion, and that is that we are to love one another, to love like Jesus, to love.
It is refreshing to be reminded of the core mission of believers.
Love like Jesus.
Love is the goal of all of Christian life. Love that is displayed in the life of Jesus. The life and death of Jesus. This love is described in 1 Corinthians 13. Let’s consider
Love does not envy or boast
It has been years since a brother once instructed me to replace the term “love” with “Jesus” to get a better understanding of who He is.
Jesus does not envy or boast
Let’s look at the first of the terms describing what love does not do.
The term zeloo means to burn with zeal, to be zealous, to desire earnestly.
Let’s think about something that is often equated in my mind. The synonyms of envy and jealousy. Surely they mean the same thing! Is that correct?
I have previously penned a series on A Jealous God, which may be beneficial to refer to if of interest. With that study, I found that jealousy, rightly held by the believer, was of benefit to both sinner and saint. You see, God’s jealousy sought out our best, by directing our love away from distractions and sin, and toward the springs of living water.
Envy, is not associated with God. Jealousy is. Interesting! Let’s consider the difference.
Jealous behavior is borne of the fear you may loose something or someone. It is rooted in a love relationship, and when referring to God’s jealousy, the love is towards His people. Therefore to be jealous has three participants. The one who is jealous, the one who is the object of jealousy and the one who is causing the jealousy.
Consider a cheating spouse, and the participants in the trial. The victim, the cheating spouse and the third party.
So often the Word of God describes His people as adulterous, and the emotion of jealous is directly linked to this.
Envious behavior is not so. Envious behavior has two “participants”
The one envious, and the object/person of envy.
Envy is addressed in the decalogue, where God’s command is clear. It seems clear that envy is not to be found in the believers life
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
So lets conclude that jealousy and envy are different animals. Both jealousy and envy may have positive and negative intents associated with them.
Love has the component of jealousy, but properly held in the life of the believer, seeks out the benefit of the one loved. This is not the common practice of jealousy in our lives, where we act out of our own hurt, seeking revenge. Of course, this type of jealousy is not to be found in the believers life. Godly jealousy is selfless in its exercise.
Envy in the believers life is two fold also. Envy, in the natural realm is to be shunned by the believer. Love does not envy, and the New Testament commands us to not envy.
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
This passage is linked with pride and a spirit of challenging our fellow believer. Envy, in the believer, has a source of separateness, of being in a “us vs them” relationship. Of course envy is to be shunned, and for me, it is an alarm that I have not the correct attitude toward my fellow believer. I am conceited, and from that heart, I become envious!
1 Peter 2:1
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
Galatians 5:26 addressed envy in relation to our fellow believer. Even as I was commenting on it, I was considering if envy would be addressed in the believers life in relation to those out of the body. Golly, wouldn’t you know it, but Peter speaks on that very topic.
Peter notes that we are to put away all envy. Notice the group of characters related to envy in this verse! Definitely a group of sins that believers need to reject.
As a matter of fact, Peter tells us to lay these sins aside, as an old garment, toss them off, and not to pick them up again.
Jesus replacing Love
So is my brother’s suggestion of replacing the term love with Jesus accurate and helpful?
Jesus does not envy?
The root word of the term Paul uses in our passage is used once in a description of our Lord in the book of John
His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Oh my, that throws a monkey wrench in my thinking. The term for envy, which I described as not being acceptable for a believer to exercise, is actually used to describe the Lord as His motivation for cleaning the Temple.
What was all this post about then Carl? Are we to be envious or not?
Please join me in our next study where we will consider where “envy” is to be sought after in the Christian life. I hope you can join me.
I look forward to comments and discussion. May the Lord give you an understanding heart and a willing spirit to consider the Bible and all it’s wealth.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.