Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4
When I realized that this was the word for today’s devotion, I wasn’t sure what to write. Envy just isn’t something that comes up in everyday conversation. In fact, to research for this post, I had to look up the difference between envy and jealousy. Turns out, according to a majority of psychologists, envy involves two people (one person has something, a thing or an attribute, that someone else desires,) while jealousy usually involves three people (someone’s ‘possession’ of someone else is threatened by a third person).
I actually had the gall to think, hey I’m not that envious. And then I started thinking of ALL THE WAYS I am envious. There’s always something I ‘need’. Whether it’s material or a personality characteristic, or a body type, or a relationship status. Envy is all around us. Our economy thrives on it. So then, why is it in this list of things that love is not?
Socrates called envy the ‘ulcer of the soul.’ Nice way to sugarcoat it, Socrates. I suppose you have to look at it through God’s eyes (if that’s possible). He gives us everything we need, and we constantly want more. Like, constantly. Contentment is rarely a permanent state of being. And not only do we want more, but we always want what somebody else has. So we are comparing ourselves to others.
This is the first of the attributes of the love chapter that is a ‘not’ attribute. We had patience and kindness, which are attributes of love. Envy is not. Can you be patient and kind and also envious? People would probably think you were faking it just to get what you want.
Perhaps the bottom line is this: Love does not envy because love doesn’t think of itself first. If you need help with envy, maybe you should instead ask for humility. If you think about yourself less, envy will invariably disappear.
p.s. apparently the phrase ‘green with envy’ actually came from Shakespeare’s “Othello” in which jealousy, not envy, is described as a ‘green-eyed monster’. And there you have it, an idiom we use that makes no sense.