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Love Does Not Envy or Boast

(Maybe English is not her first language. Maybe she ran out of space on her little board. Maybe she failed fourth grade Language Arts. For whatever the reason the sign that the woman in the picture is holding is not grammatically correct, I think we can understand her message.)

I have a friend who has traveled to many different places around the world. She was born in a different country, and she is able to visit her homeland every once in a while. She can also visit other places with her dual citizenship. Her social media posts usually show her enjoying the scenery of an exotic locale or dining at an authentic cultural food eatery from the place she is visiting. She owns her own businesses and her own home. In contrast, my current lifestyle does not allow for that kind of travel. The ideas I have for running my own business have been put on hold (for now). I can ignore what she does in her life, I can burn with envy over a lifestyle I will probably never achieve, or I can be happy for her. I can love her for who she is, our lasting friendship, and her love for others. I see her as wanting to share her joy, and not wanting to boast about what she is doing or where she is. (Ahem, lady in the above photo...)

1 Corinthians 13:4 English Standard Version (ESV)

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant...

In the English Standard Version (ESV) translation of the Holy Bible, the word "envy" appears 17 times. In each Scripture, envy is never a good thing. We are told not to be envious of those who do wrong (Proverbs 23:17), and that the high priests brought Jesus to Pilate out of envy(Matthew 27:18 and Mark 15:10). Envy is often listed with other attributes that are on the "do not have/do" list for Christians. When we become believers in Christ and His power, than we should put aside our old ways of thinking and our old ways of acting. In Titus 3:3, Paul reminds us that we should be different. "For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another."

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of envy is "painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage." When I focus on what others have or get to do that I do not, I no longer am doing what God calls me to do. God does not ask me to ignore others either, but to love them. I hurt myself when I choose envy over love. We are told to rejoice with others when they rejoice, and weep when they weep (Romans 12:15). So, if I am to do the will of God, then I must not be envious.

When I looked up the word "boast", it appears in about 80 Scriptures (in the ESV). God warns men several times not to boast in their own doing, because that can lead to false pride. Again, boasting brings attention on myself and not on others, nor on what God has done in my life. It shows no love. The right way to boast is this:

Jeremiah 9:23-25 English Standard Version (ESV)

23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

If I believe God is love (1 John 4:8), then I must follow His commandments on how to love. I also must follow when he says what NOT to do. Being a Follower of Christ is not about following a bunch of rules. That is what the Pharisees did, and they were not right with God. If our hearts aligned, then our actions will be too. We will not be envious and bitter towards others, and we will not boast of our own accomplishments, but we will show love by rejoicing with one another and letting others know that all we have is because of God. I will continue to click on the "likes" and "loves" of my friend's posts, and comment how I am truly happy how blessed she is. God has blessed us both, and loves us both!

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