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TEXT: I Corinthians 13:4b
SUBJECT: Attributes of Love #4: Love Doesn't Envy
Listen up, kids!
This is the second Sunday afternoon of the month and time for another kids' sermon. Do you remember what part of the Bible we've been studying for the last three or four months?
Can you tell me-in one word only-what this chapter is about?
Is the love spoken of here all about hugging and kissing? hands?
No. There's nothing wrong with hugging and kissing (if you're hugging the right person!). But the love spoken of here is a lot more than hugging and kissing.
It's an attitude. Or a state of mind. Love is the attitude-the Bible says-that makes you do some things and not do some other things. In the first part of our verse, we find one of each:
These are the first two traits of love. If you're a loving person, you don't lose your temper all the time and you're good to people. Before we go on to the next trait, let me ask you something: Are you a loving person? If you're always mad and grouchy, you're not loving. And, if you're not kind to others, you're not loving either.
No one is perfect in love except for the Lord Jesus Christ. But I'm not asking you are you perfectly loving, but are you loving? Are you patient with your brothers and sisters? Are you thoughtful with you mom and dad? When people at school do things you don't like, do you overlook it or forgive them? Or do you pay them back by being mean or excluding them?
Love is the most important thing in the world! If you don't have it, you don't have anything-not in God's eyes, you don't. We all need to improve-to grow in love. But you cannot improve what you don't have. If you don't have love, you can only find it by repenting of your sins and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. And, in knowing Him, you'll know love and be able to love others.
The third trait of love is negative. Love does some things and doesn't do other things. This is one it doesn't do: "Love does not envy".
If I asked you to stand up right now and tell us what envy is, I bet most of you couldn't do it. But that's all right, because you know what it is-everyone here knows what envy is-even if he cannot put it into words. Do you know why? Because we've all felt it: you have, I have, your parents have, everyone in the world (except the Lord Jesus Christ) has felt envious.
But what is it? Envy is unhappiness at what others have. Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean:
Envy and jealousy are sometime mixed up, but they're not quite the same thing. Jealousy is selfish-Tommy wants the better video game for himself. But envy is hateful-Tommy doesn't want his brother to have the better video game. This makes envy even worse than jealousy. If you're envious, you can never be happy or content or thankful. For no matter how much you have, others will have some things you don't.
Envy is not a fussy sin; it can hate anything and everything. Let me give you some examples:
"Not as Cain, who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous".
All envy is wrong! It doesn't matter what you envy-whether it's your brother's favor with mom and dad or a girl's good looks or a boy's brains or a neighbor's ability to play football better than you can, it's all the same! It's all envy!
You can call it other things: you can say she's stuck up, he's phony, you're better than they are, and so on. But, if you don't like others being happy or successful or having things you don't have, you're envious.
And envy is the opposite of love!
THE BIBLE ON ENVY
What does the Bible say about envy? It says it is wrong-as wrong as it can be.
It tells us not to envy others: "Let not your heart envy sinners" (Proverbs 23:17).
It tells us envy hurts you: "For wrath kills the foolish man and envy slays the silly one" (Job 5:2).
It traces the worst sins to envy: the murder of Abel (I John 3:10), selling Joseph into slavery (Acts 7:9), and even the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 27:18).
It says envy is one of the devil's great sins (Isaiah 14).
It never says the Lord Jesus Christ was envious in any way, not even for a minute.
Envy is not a little thing, but a big one: a big sin and as different from the Lord Jesus Christ as it can be. The loving person is not totally free from all traces of envy. But love conquers envy in his heart and he is not an envious person with specks of love, but a loving person with specks of envy.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
The first thing to do about envy is admit it to yourself.
You know, I've heard many confessions in my life. People have told me all sorts of bad things they've done-some of them serious crimes. But I can remember only one person admitting he was envious. He was a pastor who thought he was a much better preacher than other men were, but they had much bigger churches than he did. Personally, I felt the same way he did. But I had to tell him, that's envy.
Envy is hard to admit, for there's always some "good" reason for it. Your brother isn't that good; that girl isn't as pretty as she thinks she is. The neighbor didn't deserve the dirt bike he got for his birthday. All this may be true. But if you resent them for what they have-even if they don't deserve it-that's envy! And that's wrong.
The next thing to do is confess it to the Lord.
The Bible is very plain here: we cannot be happy or change for the better until we confess our sins-Proverbs 28:13, I John 1:9. Have you done that?
The third thing is to be thankful for what you have.
Maybe the neighbor doesn't deserve the dirt bike he got for his birthday, but so what? You don't deserve what you have-nobody does! Everything you have in life is a gift, a gift given by God and because of His grace.
You can't be thankful for what you have and envy others at the same time.
Finally, think long and hard on the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a Man who really was picked on and mistreated and hated without a cause. People not nearly as deserving as He was had things He didn't have. But instead of resenting them for it, cutting them down, and so on, He was happy for what they had. Think long and hard on Him and you'll find the love that kicks envy out of your heart.
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