Monday, July 27, 2009

What is love not?

It is not envious nor is it jealous!

When God tells us that love does not envy, He means we need to be happy for who and what we are. We are not to be comparing ourselves with others, nor are we to be jealous, spiteful, or possessive of others, because God is the One in control, and He has a unique plan for you and me. When we hear that a friend receives a promotion before we do, or gets something we wanted, we are to be happy for him/her. If we have a sibling who excels, we should be happy with him/her. If our neighbor has a brand-new car, we should be happy for him/her, and be thankful for the old wreck that we may drive. When our spouse is doing better than we are, we are to be happy for him/her. In other words, we are to be happy for someone else who has something we do not have, even if we do not like it. We must not become possessive, or control freaks, especially where it concerns others and our relationships with them. Being possessive and attempting to control others will cause the destruction of a church very quickly. We will soon lose our contentment, and run ourselves off into that maze of despair, dejection, and desolation. At the very least, this will compromise the church's effectiveness. Love is letting go of our desires and will for a greater love we cannot receive on our own-grace.

Real love is helpful so it does not become jealous or resort to putting others down to make self look good. Real Love helps! Being a loving person comes down to our willingness to either live a life that is Holy Spirit-driven or one that is sin-driven, of pride and will; either it will take us over or He will-it is up to us. If real Love cares more for others than for self, then what does envy do?

If we really love, we will not desire or take what belongs to others. Envy produces the desire to have what others have, their gifts or positions or possessions, and to seek to manipulate or put them down. Envy is misplaced zeal; it is mourning for what we do not have and conniving to get it, even rationalizing and boasting about it. It is also the temptation to compare ourselves with others or to put others down because we fear we can't have what they have, or it will cause us too much work to obtain. This poisons the Holy Spirit's work in us, as it leads to the creation of sin and hostility as well as distrust. Thus, real love will not be self-seeking or create strife or cause disharmony and prejudice toward others. Envy gains the person nothing of real or eternal value; it only pushes the person down further. It also causes us to be resentful of those who have more and thus become angry or bitter or seek to destroy them to make ourselves look better. Paul elsewhere called an envious person an idolater. He said to put to death covetousness, which is idolatry (Num. 25:11-13; Duet. 5:21; Psalm 106:30-31; Luke 6:31; Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5).

Think back to what the Lord has done for you, so you don't forget His grace, His provisions, and His answered prayers and blessings. We are not to be overcome with the struggles of the moment so we cannot see how He has brought us through them in the past. We are to refresh our memory in Him. We can respond by bringing out the best in our friends and family, always treating them with kindness, the opposite of being envious. God gives to each of us all of His love. It is a love that gives without expectations or a response from the other, so it must be how and who we are.

Questions to ponder

1. What is jealously? Have you struggled with jealousy? How so? What causes it?

2. How can you know when your emotions are out of control with envy?

3. How does or how can being possessive or spiteful, or attempting to control others, cause the destruction of a relationship? How will it destroy a church very quickly?

4. How can you better feel happy for someone else who has something you do not have, even if you do not like them?

5. If you know that jealousy comes from your un-forgiveness and will incite your anger, what can you do to anticipate it, and have a plan to handle it?

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