There is a contrast in genuine love and envy and that is what motivates a person. One of the most difficult things a person will ever do is to go deep within and discover their motivations.
God is more interested in why we do what we do than what we do for Him. One of the tests for Christians when they are judged for their works (called the Judgment Seat of Christ) concerns our motives.
The Bible says that if I “…have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (I Corinthians 13:3). It is possible for us to do right, but not from a heart motivated by love. God says that love is more important than your ability, knowledge, faith, or your giving (I Corinthians 13:1-3). None of them can substitute for love, but we often try to do so.
It is a sobering thought that my reward in Heaven will be based more on my motive than on the amount of work I do. One day God will “…try every man’s work of what sort it is”. (I Corinthians 3:13) It is possible to have a work of great size, but it not be of the right sort. God focuses on the motive, not just our actions.
Envy and jealousy are also motivations to behavior. The results of being motivated by love or envy are different from love. They keep us from enjoying a joyful life and we end up enduring a miserable life.
Envy will lead to more serious sins; love will lead to more bountiful blessings. The Corinthian church was characterized by envy and it will inevitably lead to further destruction. Other sins associated with envy are strife and division (I Corinthians 3:1-3).
This was a church that lacked loved. Rather it was filled with quarreling, debating and arguments. The same thing can happen in a home; all because of envy. It motivates us and leads to an unhappy family.
The Bible speaks of being “moved by envy” (Acts 7:9). This speaks of a stirring in the heart and mind to have what someone else has. Love will also motivate us, but it is to serve and meet the needs of those around us, not to resent them and their blessings.
Envy and jealousy are not passive. They will cause you to say and do things that are wrong and will bring grief and pain to yourself and to others. Whenever our motive base is envy we aren’t loving a person, but becoming resentful of them. Love is characterized by a desire to give; envy is characterized by a desire to gain.
I am the oldest child in my family; I have one brother, Hoss, and one sister, Melanie. Hoss went on to have a successful athletic career at the highest levels. He was an all-state and all-American football player in high school and rated a 5-star recruit. Hoss was big, fast, and quick. He received scores of scholarship offers from all of the major schools.
I played football longer than Hoss, but had nowhere near the success he did. I didn’t get a single scholarship offer or even an inquiry letter. Though I loved the sport I didn’t even start as a senior in high school.
He got to do what I only dreamed about doing as a kid. And you know what? I’m glad. There hasn’t been an ounce of jealousy or envy in my heart for my little brother. It isn’t because I’m a good guy, but because I love him very much. He’s my best friend and I rejoice in every success he has every had.
The truth is, I have gotten to meet people and go to places I never would have had it not been for his athletic success. Love has a different motivation than envy.
What are you motivated by, envy or love? Someone said, “Jealousy is the only sin that brings no satisfaction”. Envy is especially more difficult to live with when it concerns someone close to you. Deal with it before it destroys you or your relationship with your family, friends, or co-workers.
If you’re struggling with jealousy it’s a sure indication that you are struggling with a lack of love for that person.