Sunday October 20, 2002 | Greg Boyd
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Greg started this sermon with a review of the past few months. The “big picture” of God’s goal in creating is love. God wants loving creatures who embrace and reflect love back to God and to others around them. Sin interrupts the flow of this love to us.
Greg started this sermon with a review of the past few months. The “big picture” of God’s goal in creating is love. God wants loving creatures who embrace and reflect love back to God and to others around them. Sin interrupts the flow of this love to us. This leaves a void in our lives that is supposed to be filled with love. This, in turn, motivates us to find other things to “feed on” instead of God’s love. But the world only has limited resources and we are created with an infinite need, a need for God’s love in us. When sin is present, we are driven to other sources for life. Because the world only has finite resources we compete with each other for those things in our attempts to get life and meaning apart from God. “Envy” is the feeling we have when we participate in the competition and we lose.
Envy is a perversion of a godly intuition that we have: justice. We take the idea of justice, and when we lack God’s love and impartiality, justice turns in upon us and becomes “what is good for me?” Greg spent some time warning us not to mistake justice for envy or the other way around. If a person does not get a promotion because another person is more qualified, and yet this first person harbors bitterness about this, that is envy. If the real reason that the first person did not get the promotion is that the second person slept with the boss and the first person did not—then the frustration is a matter of justice. If one person cannot afford a house and is frustrated about that, then envy may be present. If this person can afford the house, but is prevented from viewing the home by discrimination (perhaps this person does not fit the racial profile of the neighborhood) on the part of the agent, or redlining or being denied a loan for no reasonable reason—then we are talking about justice. Godly anger in this case, would be warranted. God is always for justice, but not for envy. Though we may mistake one for the other, God does not.
Biblical examples of envy are plentiful. Eve was envious of what the serpent said God had and she did not. Cain was envious of Able’s sarcrifice. Joseph’s brothers were envious Joseph, David was envious of Bathsheba. Greg told stories of being envious of a boy who girls liked better than him. A boy who had better hair, or was a better singer or a better drummer became competition for Greg and he would grow envious. Even to the point of willing their defeat in the competition. This is what envy does to us. We all struggle with it most in the areas we perceive to be our own strengths. If we have an “idol area” in our lives, an area we get life from rather than seeking fulfillment in God’s love for us, then we will develop envy of those who are stronger than we are in that area. The problem with this is deep. Since we are not receiving love, but seeking life from something that we see as our strength, we cannot ascribe worth and love to those who we see as competition for us. This will make us miserable because there is always someone who is better, faster, smarter, than we are. Furthermore, it leads to other sins. We may start to gossip about them, so that others might think that we are better than the one we envy. But often, this gossip is just a way that we try to make others look as bad as we feel when we are envious or insecure.
Go around the group and have each person identify some hobbies or strengths that they have. Discuss whether those things might give rise to envy when we are at a spiritual “low point” in our walk.
Can we choose to stop being envious? Why or why not?
What can be done to prevent envy?