Love does not envy or boast. (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Envy: discontentment and resentful longing aroused by someone else’s achievements, possessions, or abilities.
Boast: to talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s own achievements, possessions, or abilities.
I look at these two definitions and I am reminded of the age old “which comes first: egg or chicken” debate. Does the boaster make it easier for the other to fall into envy? Does the attention of those who envy make the boaster boast even more? But if you look right past that, you will see that both vices are fueled by a focus on self and possession. They have taken their eyes off of God and love the things of this world.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
And They are “wise in their own eyes” (Proverbs 3:7).
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18)
The love that we are commanded to have toward one another is not of this world. It is the love of God, merciful and impartial. Love that would cause a Father to sacrifice his one and only Son so others who believe in him will have eternal life. Love that would suffer through pain, torture, separation from the Father, and even death to save those who are still sinners. It is a love that is other concerned.
Loving one another should not drive us to envy, but we should rejoice with others and celebrate their successes with them. Loving God and putting him first in our lives grows a heart of thankfulness and causes us not to boast in ourselves, but give him the glory and the praise.
If we are going to long after something in our hearts, let it be the righteousness of God that comes through faith in Christ. Let it be love, peace, and joy. Let it be service to others with a grateful heart.
By not comparing ourselves to others, we can be free to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). With his grace we have the freedom to use our talents and gifts to serve Him. There will be no more room for boasting in ourselves.
For “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, 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.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
and “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)
It is sometimes easier for me to understand the “is nots” and “does nots” of this verse it I replace it with what love “is”.
If love does not envy, then love is content.
If love does not boast, then love is humble.
Some questions to ask ourselves today:
1. Is there someone in your life that you are envying? How can you renew your mind to look at them with joy and be content with and thankful for the blessings you have?
2. Is there something in your life that causes you to boast in your own abilities? Take another look and find the ways that you can give God the praise and glory that is due to him.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 34:2-3)