In some ways it is easier to love someone who we feel is at a disadvantage. We love to love on those who have some sort of challenge that we do not have. People stand in line to love the homeless, the mentally disabled, and those who are physically challenged. Self-sacrifice comes pretty easy when we feel like we have something to offer. And it should. There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving ‘the least of these’. Jesus urged us to do so. Something special happens when we love someone who needs a hand up.
It is easy to love someone we feel is our peer. Shared experiences are a connector, and often nurture a loving relationship. There is a bond you feel with people who are similar. Love grows easily in such a relationship. Love should come easy, but it should also be tested if it is to be trusted. Love is tested in several ways. One of these ways is by our interaction with people who have an advantage over us, or seem to have an advantage over us in some way.
We live in a culture that is consumed with envy. Envy is a ‘painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.’ If that does not represent our society today, I don’t know what does. There is gender envy, race envy, economic envy, education envy, and a multitude of others. Envy is not of God. It does not build relationships. It is poisonous. It is not new, but it has become an industry. Minorities are supposed to be envious of the ‘dominant culture.’ Women are supposed to be envious of men, who have obviously had no challenges in life. Poor people should be envious of those who have been blessed with material gain. There are books, conferences, blogs, and organizations that fuel this envy machine. This industry tears apart our social fabric. The idea that I want the advantage someone else has, so I resent them for it is insidious. Envy is not compatible with contentment. Neither can you love someone if you envy them.
The apostle Paul, while explaining the nature of love said, “Love does not envy.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Love can do a lot of things, but being envious is not one of those things. Love is a unifier. Envy is a separator. Love is a lifter. Envy is a sinker. Love is a builder. Envy is a destroyer. Love focuses on human similarities. Envy focuses on material differences. If I wouldn’t treat someone differently because they have a disadvantage, why would I treat another differently because they have an advantage? God gives to each according to what He wills. When I am envious of someone instead of loving them, I am telling God that He messed up. God actually placed Himself at a disadvantage when He became human. But Jesus was never envious.
Some people are much more likely to express and act on envious tendencies than others. The enemy knows this, and will take every opportunity to engage this battle. Whether the envy is based on achievement, gender, image, talents, race, or any number of things where you sense you are at a disadvantage, you must choose to love as Christ did.
Today you will be envied by someone, and you will have the opportunity to be envious of others. It is good to remember that life circumstances change. So the person who has the advantage today may be at a disadvantage tomorrow. You cannot know all that has happened in a person’s life. The thing you see as an advantage may actually be the result of hard work, or a special blessing of God. At the same time, you don’t know all of the problems that go with their ‘advantage’. It could be the weight of their advantage is crushing them. Your envy is not what they need. Your love is. Either way, we know things can change in a heartbeat. If you are going to love based on things that change, you may want to call it something other than love.
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.