Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
Love does not envy or boast. When you are experiencing envy or you are boastful in your marriage, you are not loving your spouse well because the focus of those emotions is you. God calls us to love others as He loves us. In Philippians 2:3, He tells us to “in humility count others more significant than yourselves”, so when we are desiring something another person possesses, or we are showing excessive pride or a satisfaction in our accomplishments, we are not loving our spouse well. We’re loving ourselves well.
What is the difference between jealousy and envy? People tend to consider these two emotions synonymous and use them interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same. Jealousy occurs when something we already possess, typically a relationship, is threatened, or we believe it is threatened, by another person. Envy occurs when we lack something that someone else possesses. That something might be a relationship, a lifestyle, their appearance, money, job, etc. We experience envy when we are discontent with our current situation, but rather desire another’s situation or experiences.
It’s important to distinguish between jealousy and envy because they evoke different responses and their relationship to sin is very different. We know that God is a jealous God, so there must be times when jealousy is acceptable. The jealousy of God for His holy name and for the exclusive worship of His people is sanctified. God’s desire is always that our union with Him be restored. His jealousy does not separate or leave us alone, but it is always working to bring us back to Him by revealing to us the things that compete for our attention.
We have been given the emotion of jealousy by God for similar purposes. Sanctified jealousy is the proper response of a husband or a wife whose trust has been violated through infidelity. When an exclusive relationship such as marriage is dishonored, sanctified jealousy is the passionate zeal that fights to restore that holy union. The purpose of jealousy is to restore a broken union—it’s never to destroy it. So, when jealousy is destructive, it is sin. Be very wary, our world has taught us to feel jealous in ways and at times that are sinful, and sometimes we imagine situations that evoke a jealous emotion that are just not there because we have had experiences in our past that impact our ability to see a situation clearly. Some translations of scripture use the word jealous in this verse but it’s important to understand there are times when jealousy is quite biblical.
Envy, on the other hand, is always sin. Envy is discontentment with the situation God has chosen for you, so it is always sin. There is never an exception. When you complain about your life, or display envy, you are not trusting God with the plan for your life. Complaining is a direct affront to the God we profess to love. It is disobedience because it communicates to God that He made a mistake or that He is wrong. We know what’s best for our lives, so God must have made a mistake. We think he should be giving us something that He is not, and we wonder why another person gets to enjoy what we deserve. Envy denies the sovereignty and wisdom of God and exalts our own wisdom and sovereignty.
The harsh reality is that we all experience envy throughout our days, whether we care to admit it or not. Anytime we complain about our life or our situation, about a relationship or our job, anytime we long to have something different, we are experiencing envy. We are telling God that He is wrong. Understand that it’s not wrong when envy is a fleeting thought, but it does become sin when we dwell on it. We need to capture those thoughts as they come to our minds and make them obedient to Christ.
Love does not envy. We express love when we do not complain to those in our lives, about them or to them. Love accepts who God has chosen as our spouse, and considers our marriage a blessing—even if we think we made a mistake, God did not. Love does not look to other marriages and wish ours was different, but accepts our situation as what God determines is best for our lives.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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