I love to be around people that are authentic and real. Nothing artificial; what you see is what you get. However, sometimes that is not always easy.
I don’t mean to be cynical about people, it’s just a fact of life. Perhaps that is because few people understand genuine love…and authenticity is based on one having genuine love. Love removes any need for me to be pretentious or to manipulate people to get them on my agenda.
The Bible says that “Charity…envieth not” (I Corinthians 13:4). When we become jealous and envious we stop loving. Envy eats away at our authenticity until we become an empty shell of learned behavior without a heart of love. Life has become a play in which we merely perform our memorized part. It’s all phony. We can sometimes pull off our part really well, but deep inside, we know it’s just a part we play.
The Bible speaks of a “faith unfeigned” (I Timothy 1:5). The word “unfeigned” means “sincere and without hypocrisy”. This is God’s plan for us and it is possible for us to have such a faith and life. Genuine love makes a person authentic and real. Envy makes one plastic and shallow.
We tend to overestimate the value of possessions, titles, abilities and fame and underestimate the simple value of an authentic life. Envy makes us unloving, unconcerned with meeting needs people have, but wanting the stuff they have. Rather than giving we are focused on getting.
Someone said, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving”. Love is occupied with serving, ministering and giving.
Loving people brings a satisfaction in our hearts as we fulfill God’s purpose for our lives; envy makes us deceptively scheme to shade things our own way. It destroys our authenticity.
Solomon wrote about the emptiness of envy – “…I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit”. (Ecclesiastes 4:4) The word “vanity” means “empty”. Envy will not fulfill your heart, but love will.
Paul was one of the outstanding Christian leaders in church history. God used him in a powerful way to influence people for Christ and to be the human author of most of the New Testament. His reputation was well-known and though many hated him, many highly valued and respected him.
Some preachers became jealous of Paul’s fame and success and began to criticize him. They wanted to have the same reverence other believers had for him and so they began to minister, not for Christ or to help people, but to somehow gain traction to be well-known, just like Paul.
Here’s a sad text that validates their motives – “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy…” (Philippians 1:15) They weren’t ministering from a motive of love for Christ, but out of a heart of envy. They, too, wanted to have a reputation like Paul and to be seen by others as being successful. Rather than being grateful for the work God had done through his life they criticized him and even rejoiced in the fact that he was imprisoned and implied that he had done something wrong.
Envy not only makes us disingenuous, but it puts us in a dangerous place. We begin to cover sin with spiritual activities. There is no genuineness, only hypocrisy. Envy will do that to you. The tragic thing is that we do not realize the consequences that fall out from envy. If we did, we would deal with it severely in it’s early stages before it destroyed us and others.
Be attentive when your heart begins to think in a competitive way. Your love will be tested and you will be tempted to be jealous. Love doesn’t care who gets the credit as long as people are blessed. Envy is careful to make sure it gets noticed.
The great British pastor, F.B. Meyer, told the following story about his relationship with another pastor colleague in England, G. Campbell Morgan.
“It was easy to pray for Morgan when he was in America. But when he came back to England and took a church near to mine, it was something different. I was inclined to jealousy, but I determined to act right.
My church gave a reception for him, and I acknowledged that if it was not necessary for me to preach Sunday evenings I would dearly love to go and hear him myself. Well, that made me feel right toward him. But just see how the dear Lord helped me out of my difficulty. There was Charles Spurgeon preaching wonderfully on the other side of me. He and Mr. Morgan were so popular and drew such crowds, that our church caught the overflow, and we had all we could accommodate”.
Campbell Morgan was a great preacher in his own right, but I love his spirit of humility and lack of envy toward the success of his other pastor friends. He was authentic in the way he admitted to jealously, but also in the way he learned to rejoice in their success. I think I would have enjoyed having this man for a friend. Don’t we all enjoy being in the company of one that is simply real and sincere?
One of my dear pastor friends told me about a time in his life when he was filled with jealousy over the blessings of God at another church in his town. My friend had a daycare for children at his church and a lady worked there that attended the other church across town. Each Monday morning she would come and give a glowing report of what a good day the church had the day before – the spirit, the attendance, the people that had been saved and their lives changed, those that had been baptized and joined the church.
My friend’s church was struggling just to keep the doors open. They were in a very bad part of town and were not doing well financially and their attendance was not growing. Each week this lady would come to work on Monday and share God’s goodness to her church and my pastor friend felt threatened and hurt by the seeming absence of God’s blessing on his church. He was doing his best, but the results were not the same.
He began to intentionally avoid seeing this lady on Mondays so he wouldn’t have to be reminded of his failure as a leader. One morning he was praying and God convicted him of his jealousy and lack of love for this pastor and church across town. He confessed his sin and purposed to pray for the pastor and church, that God would prosper them even more.
Soon his prayers became even more focused. Very early on Sunday mornings he would drive over to the other church and sit in his car in their parking lot and spend some time in prayer for God to bless that church on that day. No one ever knew he did that. He never told them. It was something he needed to do to deal with the envy in his heart.
As my friend shared this story with me he told me how that God released him from the bondage of envy and he became grateful to God for the other ministry. Also, he became close friends with that pastor. God had replaced his envy with love for that church. I might add that I always enjoy spending time with this dear man. He is genuine, real, sincere. I want to be like that.
A serious and probing question: is there someone of whom you are jealous? Take the time today to ask God to bless them and rejoice in God’s goodness to them. This is the way love acts. It’s also the way to keep from losing your authenticity and becoming an unhappy, critical, negative hypocrite.
William Penn wrote, “The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves”.