#596 (9/5/22)LOVE DOES NOT ENVY
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.’ (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Envy (Zéloó) is to be jealous of others. Rivalrous and eager to possess what others have. Envy does not truly believe in the love of God. Deep down, the envious believe that God has overlooked them and favours others more highly. God’s love breaks envy because God’s love assures us that we are perfectly loved and are gifted according to His will. We read of Joseph’s brother’s becoming envious. This will lead to them selling him into slavery - such is the danger of allowing envy to fester:
‘Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him…His brothers were jealous of him…“Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”’ (Genesis 37:3-4, 11, 20)
Love and envy cannot dwell together. To envy is to want to diminish others and to promote ourselves. Love seeks to raise others even at the cost of ourselves! This is gospel humility.
ENVIOUS OF GIFTS
In the Corinthian context, they were jealous of the spiritual gifts and status that others in the church enjoyed. This led to some disqualifying themselves as they compared themselves with others:
‘Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.’ (1 Corinthians 12:15)
ENVIOUS OF STATUS
It seems that some in Corinth were looking at the few high-status people with envy. It seems that those of lower status were envious and ambitious to grow in worldly status. Paul urges them to remember the love of God; He chose and called them in their low position:
‘Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.’ (1 Corinthians 1:26)
JEALOUSY OVER LEADERS
Paul is very confrontational over their jealousy. It seems that they are jealous for their preferred leaders and this is leading to quarrelling:
‘You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?’ (1 Corinthians 3:3-4)
RESPONSE - PRACTICE FOR PURSUING HUMILITY
Envy is disempowered by the love of God. Envy reveals that we are failing to receive the love of God as we should. Surely, a vital practice for killing pride and pursuing humility is to saturate our minds and hearts with the gospel of God’s unconditional love. C. J Mahaney, in his book, Humility, writes of the vital practice:
‘REFLECT ON THE WONDER OF THE CROSS : For me, the most consistently helpful item on the list is this: Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ. I believe this will be the most important habit and practice for you as well. To truly be serious and deliberate in mortifying pride and cultivating greatness, you must each day survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died…John Stott helps us understand why the cross has this powerful effect: Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.’ (Humility P.51-52)
How will you do this? You could choose a text of scripture to meditate on. Choose a song of worship which is rich in the gospel.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have any encouragements to share from how God has been speaking to you from His word recently?
3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday, we continued with our series 'Becoming Love' from the book of 1 Corinthians, looking at the next three aspects of love.
Please read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
last week we looked at how love is patient and kind. This means that, like God, we endure in our relationships (patience) whilst also showing, sometimes, undeserved kindness (kindness or mercy). This week, we are considering the next three facets: love avoids envy, boasting and pride.
i. LOVE DOES NOT ENVY - Envy (Zéloó) is to be jealous of others. Rivalrous and eager to possess what others have. Envy does not truly believe in the love of God. Deep down, the envious believe that God has overlooked them and favours others more highly. God’s love breaks envy because God’s love assures us that we are perfectly loved and are gifted according to His will.
ii. LOVE DOES NOT BOAST - Boating (Perpereuomai) is to be a windbag. It's to boast, lift ourselves up, show off and draw attention to ourselves. Again, this comes from a failure to understand the gospel of God's grace toward us.
iii. LOVE IS NOT PROUD - Pride (Phusioó) Is to puff or blow up, flaunting for personal benefit, trying to make ourselves look bigger. Pride is Believing we are better than others.
All of these aspects of failure to love, relate to 'Patience and kindness'. Understanding God's patience and kindness toward us free us from envy, boasting and pride.
i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?
ii) This section on love is about the correct use of spiritual gifts; how will avoiding envy, boasting and pride ensure that we use our gifts in a healthy manner?
iii) A practice for killing envy, boasting and pride is to be grateful and encourage others. Spend some time doing an 'I SEE IN YOU...' exercise: take time to tell each member of your group what you see in them: gifts, character, specific service for which you are grateful, prophetic words...
iii) In the blog on Monday (#596) I shared a practice for pursuing humility from C. J. Mahaney's book, Humilty. He encourages us to start the day by:
'REFLECT ON THE WONDER OF THE CROSS For me, the most consistently helpful item on the list is this: Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ. I believe this will be the most important habit and practice for you as well. To truly be serious and deliberate in mortifying pride and cultivating greatness, you must each day survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died.' (Humility)