Each day of our lives, we are faced with circumstances, challenges, obstacles, and opportunities in which to apply the Word of God. We don’t always get to choose the circumstances, but throughout the moments of our days, we do get to choose how we deal with them. As children of God, we have the spiritual ability—because of the gift of holy spirit within us—to handle everything that comes our way with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation. But how do we know if we are manifesting the love of God?
I Corinthians 13 lists characteristics of the love of God, and these characteristics show us what the love of God does—what it looks like when we are acting upon it, when we are manifesting it. These scriptures also show us what it does not do.
I Corinthians 13:4-6:
…charity [agapē, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation] envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.
In the listing of what the love of God does not do, we see eight behaviors. We will cover the first three: “envieth not…vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (verse 4). The word “not” in each of these phrases is translated from the Greek word ou. This word expresses full and direct negation. It denies absolutely and directly, and it denies what is a matter of fact. There is a strong and absolute negation of fact tied to these “love is not” behaviors.
Let’s look closely at “envieth not.” The love of God envieth not. What does it mean to envy? “Envieth” is translated from the Greek verb zēloō. According to Bullinger’s lexicon, zēloō means “to be zealous towards,…[that is,] for or against any person or thing; generally for, and in a good sense.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines zēloō as “to have warmth of feeling for or against.” From these definitions we can see that there is both a positive and a negative sense to this Greek word. Here in I Corinthians 13:4, it is being used in a negative sense. Zēloō comes from the word zēlos, meaning generally any eager, vehement passion.
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament notes that in I Corinthians 13:4 zēloō can mean to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, or anger. This is what the love of God absolutely does not manifest.
To be envious is to be zealous about the wrong things, which results in confusion and evil works.
But if ye have bitter envying [zēlos] and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
For where envying [zēlos] and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Envy comes from the “wisdom” of the senses realm, the realm controlled by the adversary—fleshly wisdom. This kind of wisdom is earthly, sensual, and devilish, and it results in confusion and unproductive evil. This comes from looking to the world and not to the things of God, the true and spiritual things.
Being envious of someone or something begins with our thoughts. Remember, one definition of zēloō is to boil with envy, hatred, or anger. Think about a pot of water sitting on the stove. Does that water boil the moment the heat is turned on? No, it takes time for a pot of water to boil. It starts with a simmer. Sometimes we may find that we are tempted to look at others and what they have and then desire it for ourselves. If we are tempted to think this way and to compare ourselves with one another, there can be a tendency to think that we are either less than or worse than the people we are looking at. If left alone, these thoughts can simmer until they reach a boil. These “boiling” thoughts of envy can bubble over into our actions and can cause strife and confusion and evil works. This can happen because of temptations to measure and compare ourselves according to others or to the standards of the world. God’s Word, however, says that comparing is not wise.
II Corinthians 10:12:
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
It is not wise to compare ourselves with one another; instead, we can measure ourselves according to the Word of God. We learned in James 3:14-16 that envy comes from the “wisdom” of the world, and “…where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” In stark contrast, verse 17 says that God’s wisdom “…is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” What a drastic difference between God’s wisdom and worldly wisdom! We can expect beautiful results, bearing good fruit, as we keep God’s wisdom—His Word—as our standard and live God’s love.
As born-again believers, we are all members in particular, and God has chosen us to be His children with a unique function in which to serve. We don’t need to compare ourselves with one another, to be resentful of an advantage another has, or to be envious because of what someone else might have the opportunity to do. We can carry out our particular, unique function wholeheartedly….
This is an excerpt from the July/August 2016 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2016 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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