Friday, November 14, 2014

1 Corinthians 13: Love Does Not Envy

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)."

Power (dunamis) is the miraculous ability of God that can transform, heal, and set free. Love (agapos) is good will and benevolence towards others. A sound mind (sophronismos) is the ability to do what 'fits' a situation.

Love without power does not have the ability to bring transformation, it can only empathize. Love with power not only cares for the individual but has the capacity to set them free. Add wisdom that knows what to do when, and you have someone that can change the world.

A powerless person is subject to circumstance. They say they are victims to their own circumstances, pushed to and fro by ideas, struggles, and unhealthy expectations. Powerlessness either manifests in passivity, where the individual makes excuses for their behavior and situation; or it results in control and manipulation, where the individual seeks to manipulate people and circumstances because they are afraid of the the unknown.

A powerful person on the other hand takes responsibility for their own actions. They don't make excuses for poor decisions but, own them and learn from them. A powerful person doesn't place blame, and has the capacity to decide how they will act regardless of the circumstance. A powerless person finds it difficult to love because they are focused on self, a powerful person has the capacity to love because they are free enough in themselves to focus on others.

Love Does Not Envy

At it's core, love is other centered. Love desires benefit for others, which is why jealousy is polar opposite to the way of love.  Envy says, 'I dislike you because you have something I want' or 'I would not be miserable if my circumstances were different.'  Love says, 'I am so thankful that you have that blessing, give them more Lord.'  It isn't that we shouldn't desire good things in our own lives, but out of the goodness of our hearts we want those same good things for those around us.

Envy can produce entitlement; which is the belief that we 'deserve' one thing or another.  Entitlement doesn't give thanks for what we have, rather it looks at what we don't have, and either lays blame for why that is the case, or just fills us with regret.  Entitlement kills thankfulness, because it doesn't have eyes to see what is already possessed.  More often than not, entitlement causes the individual to be a victim.  'Well if only I had your circumstances I would never make these decisions. . .' If I had better friends I would be happier'.

Envy and Entitlement believe that fulfillment comes from the outside, and unless something changes in our circumstances our inner being will remain the same bitter, depressed self. Jesus dealt with both sides of that unhealthy perspective, and when we come to Him our minds can be renewed to a whole new way of looking at things.

1) Jesus showed us how silly it is to feel entitled. 'All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).' 'The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).'  We actually don't deserve anything! Any goodness in our lives is a gift of grace. Most of us don't believe that, but it's true. If we saw reality for what it truly is, every blessing in our lives, every bit of love, would be an occasion for thanksgiving.

2) On the other hand, Jesus shows us great worth through His choice for us. Even though the 'wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:24).' Jesus died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).' He proved that our worth has nothing to do with our outward behavior or circumstances. We were dead in our trespasses, bankrupt before God, and He still chose us!  Worth is measured by the amount that someone is willing to pay for it, and God gave His own life in exchange for ours.

When we see Jesus in truth, jealousy no longer has a foothold in our lives.  How can we feel entitled when we know we don't deserve anything and yet have been given everything? Seeing what Jesus has done for us, and for the rest of the world, is the only thing that can cause us to 'consider others greater than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).' Otherwise that is pretty much impossible.

The apostle Paul was so focused on blessing others that he said he would forfeit his own salvation if the Jews would realize theirs (Romans 9;3)! How incredible! How supernatural!!

This doesn't mean we neglect ourselves.  After all we are instructed to 'love our neighbors as ourselves.'  If you don't know how to love yourself, you certainly will not be able to give to others in a healthy way.  Some people out out of the motivation to serve and give all of themselves to others, end up suppressing growth because they do everything for them, rather than building them up to be able to function wholly themselves.

Envy kills joy.  If you struggle with jealousy look to Jesus.  You deserve nothing, and yet have been given everything.  The Gospel changes our perspective to the extent that we view no one according to the flesh; no one in accordance with the 'way of the world'.  Stop being a victim and take charge of the life that you have. How you live in the present is going to dictate your life in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment