Summary: The Holy Spirit can help all Christians to love in ways that are not envious, not boastful, and not proud.
Everyone look under seat – if you have a tape X come on up I’ve got something for you (have 3 people come up – two get a candy bar, one gets some carrot sticks).
Why did I do that? You’ll know in just a few minutes.
We’re taking a look at love this month. Not the mushy kind of love – but the kind of love God displays toward us, and that we are called upon to display toward those around us.
I don’t know about you – but I’m getting challenged all week as I prepare these messages. It’s one thing to TALK about love – and quite another to actually BE loving like God is!
Let’s read together our text, which is found in 1Corinthians 13…
1Cor. 13:1-4 (NIV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Love does not envy.
• Love is content.
It is easy for us to understand what envy is when it comes to materialism. We see someone who possesses something we wish we could have – and we start envying them. But how does envy enter into our relationships with each other?
• I could envy someone else’s spouse, wishing my spouse were more like that person (or that I had a spouse).
• I could envy someone else’s children, wishing my kids were more like them.
• I could envy someone’s friends, wishing my friends were more like them.
• I could envy someone’s personality and gifts, wishing I were more like them.
The problem with envy is that whenever we start envying what we don’t have, it’s like cancer in our existing relationships.
Prov. 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
How does envy rot the bones? It makes us discontent. It makes us feel like we’ve been treated unfairly by people or by God. It makes us feel like we’ve been “passed over” when all the good stuff was handed out. But love is not like that.
ILLUS: A few minutes ago most of you discovered that you had not “won” a prize because you sat in the wrong seat. How did you feel toward those who did win?
And how did the one feel who “won” the carrot sticks instead of the candy bar?
It’s a silly example I know – but it does demonstrate how we tend to envy those who get nice things – even if were quite content before they got it!
When my neighbor gets something really nice – like a brand new car – envy can rise up so quickly.
But if my children receive something really nice – a new bike or an award at school – I don’t get bent out of shape – I’m happy for them. Why? Because I love them. When you love someone you rejoice with their successes and do not try to bring them “back to your level” with envy and bitterness.
How do you react when the people around you get something nicer than you have? If their husband seems more helpful and kind than yours. If their wife seems to be more supportive of her husband than your wife is of you. If their kids are able to sit nice and quietly through church better than yours.
Let me encourage you to stop the beginnings of envy before they grow with a simple phrase: “good for them”. Rather than “how’d they get so lucky” or “I wish the people in MY life were like that” simply say “good for them”.
Love says “thank you God for these people in my life. They are not perfect, but neither am I. Thank you for allowing me to be in relationship with these people. Help me to accept these people.”
I’m not very good at this one. It is much more natural for me to envy than it is for me to be content. Love doesn’t do that. Love doesn’t compare people to impossible standards and wish they were different before you accept them. Because love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
• Love is humble.
This characteristic of love is the opposite of the last one. Love does not envy what other people have – and it doesn’t Lord what it does have over other people either!