Resolved: To Love... Rejoicing with Others
Love is… not jealous.
~1 Corinthians 13:4
Who Are You Rooting For?
I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl last week, but unfortunately my Indianapolis Colts were not there to play for the title. I would have loved to see them win another championship, but there is something that makes it a little easier. I take heart in the fact that the New England Patriots didn’t make it either. As a Colts fan, I can’t stand the Patriots and I root against them religiously. I loved when the Patriots were caught cheating and I enjoy when people bring it up against them. And that’s not all. Not only do I dislike the team as a whole, but I also dislike their quarterback, Tom Brady. It’s not enough for the Patriots to lose; I want Brady to play poorly every week. I’m a Manning man, and I don’t want Brady to play better than Peyton. While I have never rooted for Brady to get hurt, I don’t feel bad when he gets knocked out of the game . . . but that’s enough of that. I should probably stop revealing my sinful sports heart.
Have you ever rooted against someone else? It can be fun in sports, but even then it can go too far (I’m a good example of that). Sadly, many of us take it far beyond sports. Many of us root against people in “real life.” Have you ever hoped that a coworker would miss a deadline, or been disappointed when another person gets kudos for a job well done? Have you ever applied for a new position at work, only to see someone else get the job? How did you respond? Maybe you know someone who seems to have it all together. Every time you talk to them it seems that their life is only getting better and better. Do you get tired of hearing about their blessings?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you are not alone. But the good news is that there is another way, a more excellent way. This blog series is devoted to thinking through love. I hope that as we learn to love correctly we will be able to have greater impact for Christ in 2011. We have been considering 1 Corinthians 13 and we have learned that love is patient and that love is kind. Next Paul tells us that love does not envy. Envy is incompatible with love. Love is willing to sacrifice and seek what is best for other people, but envy (or jealousy) is more interested in self. There is not enough room in your heart for love and envy to live together. One of the two will always win out.
There are many situations and things that can encourage us to choose envy. Advertisers and marketers are excellent at breeding discontentment. Envy can slip into many different parts of our lives. Have you ever wanted another person’s . . .
- Success at work?
- Leadership position in the church?
- Close friendships?
- House, car, job, etc.?
- Financial situation?
- Spiritual maturity?
- Appearance or looks?
We may think that no one can see it, but envy is not a closet sin. Envy doesn’t stay hidden inside of us. Our responses will always reveal our heart. Here are some common ways we respond when we are jealous of other people:
We respond . . .
- By taking jabs in order to knock them down a level
- By wanting to avoid that person at all costs
- By rolling our eyes when they share good news (many of us do this mentally)
- By bringing up something bad about that person behind their back
- By growing discontent with the life that God has blessed us with
- By seeking affirmation from others about our own value and worth
- By hoping to see something bad happen to the person we are jealous of
- By inwardly rooting for their failure
- By not supporting their ideas or suggestions
- By making sure they don’t get the credit they deserve
Matthew and I are aware that we could easily let jealousy overtake us in ministry. There are many wonderful, Bible believing churches in the Austin area and we could easily become jealous of the “success” of others. We may be tempted to think:
- What do they have that we don’t?
- Why would God bless them instead of us?
- Why does everyone want to go to that church instead of ours?
This is envy rearing its ugly head. We must remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and we all have the same goal. If we desire to see God save people, then we should rejoice when we see that happening in other churches. We must love God more than we love our own success. We must love people more than we love numbers. We must long to see God glorified and hearts changed more than we long to see seats filled and budgets met.
Rejoicing with Others
A love that is not jealous is eager to rejoice with others. If we love correctly we will rejoice when others experience blessings and success, regardless of our own failures or struggles. This is the love that Paul longs for us to have. This is the love that can impact others for Christ. To rejoice with another person is to show them the love of God. However it is impossible to have this kind of love if we are consumed by our own passions and desires. It is easy to become distracted by our own heart and miss opportunities to love those around us. Jealousy makes us look at ourselves, but true love places the focus on others.
If you struggle with jealousy (and I think we all do occasionally) then it is time to get to work. You can learn to replace your thoughts of jealousy with thoughts of love. You can learn to genuinely rejoice with others, regardless of your own situation. Let’s think through an example together.
Maybe you have been struggling with jealousy toward a particular friend (let’s call him Bill). It seems that everything always goes Bill’s way. He has the perfect family, the perfect marriage, the perfect clothes, the perfect home and the perfect job. He’s always in a good mood and everyone seems to like him. Everything you want, Bill seems to have. One day Bill tells you that he received an unexpected raise at work. On the very same day you find out that you owe a substantial amount in income tax. Bill didn’t know your situation, he was just excited, but it doesn’t seem fair. How will you respond?
A JEALOUS heart chooses bitterness while a LOVING heart chooses to rejoice in Bill’s blessings
A JEALOUS heart chooses gossip while a LOVING heart chooses to share the good news with excitement
A JEALOUS heart chooses to complain while a LOVING heart chooses to praise God for his gifts in Bill’s life
A JEALOUS heart chooses to snub Bill and ignore him while a LOVING heart chooses to spend time with Bill and celebrate with him
A JEALOUS heart chooses to root for failure in Bill’s life while a LOVING heart chooses to help Bill succeed even more
Love is not jealous. It is my hope and my prayer that we will all choose love.
Resolved: To Love… Rejoicing with Others
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