“Love” (in I Corinthians 13:1-8) is a multi faceted diamond that describes both the character of God and the attributes of those who believe in Jesus. Looking at only one of the points on that diamond – “Love does not envy” –helps us measure the maturity of each one of us and of the Christian community. What does Paul mean by “envy?”
The cognate word for “envy” is used in 1 Corinthians 3:4 to describe “rivalry” or “strife.” That attitude was demonstrated by the Corinthian’s divisions over which teacher (pastor) in their congregation was either deemed the best or was liked the most. The word also refers to those who stood against Paul as his “rivals” for the affection of those who were part of that Christian community, pitting believer against believer.
Paul describes “love” as an attitude that does not allow fellow believers to be in competition either for positions in the church or to gain people’s favor so that they can gain personal adherents to themselves. Love creates unity and encouragement between individuals and churches - not rivalries.
“Love” asks the question, “How can I best serve those for whom Christ died without concern for my own ego, position, or status?” This is certainly part of Jesus’ request for His followers in the High Priestly prayer of John 17 when He prayed that all believers would be “one.” God's requirement is so contrary to the world's attitude of competition and rivalry which elevates ourselves by putting others down!
1) Since not having “envy” is a characteristic of “love,” how are we doing personally and in our churches?
2) As the “world” looks at us and at our churches, can it detect that we are believers by our "love" which is expressed in our lack of “envy”?
Growing with you, Bob