“Love is Not Jealous”
1 Corinthians 13:4
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.4 Part 2 Love is not Jealous
1 Co. 13. Every year my wife Ruth and the kids make a book out of family pictures. Last year, we did one on this chapter 1 Corinthians 13. And because we’re talking about jealousy this morning, I thought I would mention the picture on jealousy. The picture shows Rosie and Pazli sitting at the kitchen table. Pazli has a huge bowl of ice cream with sprinkles and Rosie has a small bowl of ice cream. And Rosie is clearly longing for Pazli’s ice cream.
What’s funny about that story is what happened before the picture was taken. What was originally planned was that Rosie would actually have a large bowl of ice cream with the sprinkles and Pazli would be the one to have the small bowl of ice cream and Pazli would be the one longing for Rosie’s bowl of ice cream. But Pazli didn’t want that because she wanted the big bowl of ice cream in the picture!
Pazli was actually jealous over Rosie’s bowl of ice cream! Generally, I can’t recommend giving jealous people what they want. …..
Last time we looked at patience and kindness. These are the two primary responses of Christian love. After those two responses, we have 8 negatives. You could even underline the ‘nots’ in verses 4-6. And then there is another shift in verse 7, with 4 ‘alls’ which again, you could note.
Let’s read again vv. 4 to the first 3 words of verse 8.
1 Corinthians 13:4–8 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails
Love is not jealous.
POINT: In the church, love is inconsistent with, it contradicts jealousy. Instead, love rejoices with others and doesn’t long for what they have.
Love is not jealous! And remember that the Corinthian’s are having great trouble in their church. There is bickering and fighting and the exultation of giftedness. So you can imagine people being jealous over each others’ gifts.
So Paul is rebuking them, “love is not jealous!” Christian love for each other is the polar opposite to jealousy.
The word here translated jealous can refer to a good thing, which we won’t discuss this morning, but it can also refer to jealousy or envy. We will not attempt to distinguish the two this morning, but simply to make jealousy and envy synonymous today.
So what is jealousy or envy? Jealousy or envy is this:
It is a strong desire for what someone else has and with it can come anger, depression, and just general chaos. So what are we talking about this morning? Jealousy or envy…it is an anger-filled desire for something someone else has.
NEED: Now, you may feel like that you are not a jealous person. And if that is God’s viewpoint of you, praise the Lord! The reality is we all have been jealous. A study indicated that infants as young as 3 months old exhibit jealousy when, for example, their mother’s attention is diverted by another person. And there are many studies that indicate that social media is provoking people to jealousy.
If you post your workout routine on Facebook, instagram, or twitter it can cause people to feel poorly about themselves. People are judging their own lives and their friends’ lives based on their social media profile. “I can’t believe, my friend had more likes or comments than I did!”
We’ll look at the descriptions of jealousy, the damage from jealousy, and we’ll finish up with some direction for those who are jealous.
Descriptions of Jealousy
This angry or depressive desire for something someone else has can begin rather small. It can begin with a sense of rivalry.
It can start with a sense of rivalry
Ecclesiastes 4:4 4 I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind.
ILL: It’s what was going on between Rachel and Leah, Jacob’s two wives, and Jacob as well. Rivalry. Jacob loves Rachel more than Leah. Rachel is barren, Leah is bearing children. After Leah’s first son Reuben is born she says, “surely now my husband will love me.” Leah then gives birth to Simeon and she says again, “Surely now my husband will love me.”
Leah longs for love from Jacob, like how he loves Rachel. Rivalry. And Rachel is also jealous of Leah, so she says to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.” And so Rachel gives to Jacob her servant Bilhah to have children through her. Jealousy lead to immorality.
ILL: On one occasion in Luke 9 the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Luke says that they were arguing about it. And Jesus shows them a child, but you can see what’s on their minds. Rivalry.
On another occasion the Lord predicts his future death and resurrection and they don’t get it and they were traveling to Capernaum and when they went inside someone’s house he began to question them, as if speaking to little children, “What were you talking about on the way here?” And so they are silent because they were talking about which one of them was the greatest! Rivalry. “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
And on yet another occasion, in Matthew 20, the sons of Zebedee, James and John with their mother, ask to sit on his left in on his right in his kingdom. And no doubt as Jesus is responding to them, the 10 other disciples begin to boil over. And sure enough we read that the 10 became angry with the two brothers. Rivalry.
On yet even another occasion in Luke 22, the very night before Jesus is crucified, they argued again about which one of them was the greatest. Jealous rivalry, anger, and bickering!
Are you jealous? Do you have a sense of rivalry against somebody because of their gifts? Do you find yourself ever downplaying somebody else’s success or spirituality and you exalt yours? Have you ever celebrated somebody else’s failure, or you delight when they fail or talk to you about their failures because it makes you feel good?
You feel insecure around this person and you’re constantly looking for ways in which this person has sinned or messed up.
And then you may even begin to feel suspicious of their typical day-to-day activities or behaviors or you may avoid those people that you feel envy for.
ILL: Paul the apostle knew of such envy. Other preachers were envious of him. The apostle Paul is in prison and he tells the Philippians that he is rejoicing because the gospel is advancing but that there are some who are preaching Christ out of envy. They are jealous of Paul’s ministry and the following that he has. And they think to themselves now that Paul has been put in prison, we can get a leg up on him now!
ILL: There is a fable that Satan’s agents were failing in their various attempts to draw into sin a holy man who lived as a hermit in the desert of northern Africa. Every attempt had met with failure; so Satan, angered with the incompetence of his subordinates, became personally involved in the case. He said, “The reason you have failed is that your methods are too crude for one such as this. Watch this.”
He then approached the holy man with great care and whispered softly in his ear, “Your brother has just been made Bishop of Alexandria.” Instantly the holy man’s face showed that Satan had been successful: a great scowl formed over his mouth and his eyes tightened up.
“Envy,” said Satan in the fable, “is often our best weapon against those who seek holiness.”
So, often, in the church, people want control, power, or prominence and snarl when others have what they want.
You know you have a problem with jealousy when: you feel a sense of rivalry with someone.
It can start so small … a little rivalry here, but really, you’re jealous.
ME: At Bob Jones University, I literally had somebody tell me, “I wish I had your testimony for Christ.”
And as I reflect back on these times, I wonder if he was jealous…and I could easily convince him, knowing myself and my own struggles, that he didn’t need to be!
It can start with rivalry. And it can lead to anger. It is a kind of anger.
It results in anger (Luke 15)
Jesus’ story of the prodigal son, which we use to illustrate God’s compassion, is also a story of jealousy. The man had two sons remember. The younger son gets his inheritance early and goes out and squanders it with loose living. And having come to the end of his rope, he goes back to his father ready to confess sin. Of course his father sees him a far-off and runs and embraces him and they feast together! … But the older son came and approached the house and he hears the music and dancing. He asks one of the servants, “What’s going on?” And so he tells him, he says, “Your brother’s come back and your father has killed the fattened calf and received him back safe and sound.”
And then the older son becomes angry and was not willing to go in to the feast… And the father came out of the house and was pleading with the older son.
The older son says to the father, “Look! I served you so many years I never disobeyed you and you never gave me a feast like this! And when this son of yours, who wasted your wealth on prostitutes, came back you kill the fattened calf!”
Jealous anger. Totally inconsistent with love.
The father then appeals to this older son, “We had to celebrate and rejoice for this brother of yours was lost and has been found.” Rejoice!
You have a problem with jealousy when: you’re not rejoicing when someone’s doing well! Instead, you’re irritated, resentful, upset, or angry over that person’s wellbeing, success, spiritual gifts, or whatever. That’s not love; it’s the polar opposite of love. Love would rejoice with those who are more talented or gifted.
TRANS: Jealousy can first begin with a sense of rivalry, and second it can lead to intense anger, and third it can end in destruction.
It desires to destroy (Gen. 4 and Gen 37)
ILL: In Gen. 4, the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering for Cain and his offering the Lord did not have regard. And so Cain becomes very angry… And when they were in the field Cain rose up against his brother and killed him. Jealous anger destroys!
ILL: And you have the story of Joseph and his brothers. Jacob’s the dad and Joseph is clearly his favourite son, playing favorites. Joseph has a dream and his brothers’ sheaves are bowing down to Joseph’s sheaf. And they hated him for his dreams. “Whoa hoo, my sheaf bowing down to Joseph’s sheaf. PffT!”
And he had another dream… “Hey guys! The sun moon and 11 stars were all bowing down to me!” Jacob says to Joseph, “Come on, what’s this? Is your mother, me and your brothers all really going to bow down to you?” And his brothers are jealous of him! “Give me a break!” “Yeah…great idea, let’s break his neck!” And so, they throw him into a pit … but instead of killing him, they decide to sell him instead.
Jealousy desires to destroy.
You have a problem with jealousy when: You actually want that person’s harm or undoing or their fall.
That is the total opposite of love. Instead, love rejoices with others and doesn’t long for what they have.
Now, the Corinthian church was known for its jealousy. Let me get you to turn back to chapter 3.
One writer calls the Corinthian church, “the prime NT example of rampant corporate jealousy.” Their jealousy over gifts and who they followed infected their fighting of each other. Their jealousy was what was behind the different factions.
Notice Paul’s condemnation here in the first four verses …
1 Corinthians 3:1–4 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?
And we learned from chapter 1 that somebody replies back, “Well, I am of Christ…” The spiritually smug person. “Ha, you’re of Paul. Well guess what? Ha ha… right here, buddy, I’m of Christ!”
And the reality is their jealousy had stunted their spiritual growth. They could not handle solid spiritual food, but only milk … their spiritual growth was stunted because they were harbouring jealousy and anger toward each other. They could not handle the meat of God’s word. They always needed to be talked to with spiritual baby talk.
When I was about Jones University, I was working on a PhD in theology. I remember talking with a fellow student who could not finish his PhD and when he was telling me he had to drop out, I felt smug.
I finished everything for the PhD including the Greek and Hebrew comprehensive exams. But I did not do so well on the other exams and I didn’t get started on the dissertation. And so I did not finish! But I have friends who did finish. The dean of the seminary warned not to be jealous nor be filled with regret.
I have fellow classmates who teach at world-famous organizations, pastor larger churches than me, and have published books. I can understand the temptation to be jealous, but praise the Lord, I’m not!
Catch all of other times when we can be jealous
But we tend to be jealous of people who are closer to us, people we know or people in our field of work or those in our family. Somebody may be more socially successful than you, either they have more and better friends or a better dating life. Their business is more successful, they are more wealthy, or they are more talented and gifted. You wish you had their spouse, you wish you could have the kids that they have, you wish you were better looking like them …
So whenever you sense in yourself that you are not happy about something in your life, you must be aware of jealousy. Someone will always be more attractive, more successful, more talented or confident.
And you may end up like the queen in Snow White and ask “who is the fairest one of all” … and when you realize it ain’t you no more, you may begin a rivalry, become angry or standoffish toward them, give false praise to them, or whatever, and you may not want to kill them, but you would secretly delight in their downfall.
If you find yourself thinking how unfair life can be or you feel self-pity, or find yourself using the ‘but’ phrase …
She’s a great singer, but her appearance is lacking. He’s a hard worker, but his family is a mess. She’s a wonderful homemaker, but she can’t really do anything else…
If you are like this, you’re opening yourself up to jealousy.
TRANS: If you are caught up in the sin of jealousy, it is an empty and very destructive sin that has overtaken you. So regarding the damage that it causes…
The Damage of Jealousy
Eccl. 4:4, it’s vanity.
You remember from Ecclesiastes 4:4 that that rivalry is vanity and striving after wind. Its fleeting and empty.
TRANS: But the company that jealousy keeps tells us that jealousy goes beyond just vanity. It is horrendous.
Because of the company it keeps, we know it is a horrendous sin
Paul’s different lists of sin in the NT tell us it keeps really bad company.
Churches can have their favorite sins they rail on, like no theater attendance or no watching the wrong things and drinking the wrong things and no listening to the wrong things and no eating the wrong things or smelling the wrong things…
But jealousy is one of those sins that is easily overlooked and that no one tends to talk about. But Paul does.
Paul says in Ro. 1 that lost people are filled with wickedness, greed, evil, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and gossips. Jealousy keeps company with murder.
Romans 13:13 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.” What bad company jealousy keeps!
Paul says in Ga. 5 that the works of the flesh are evident… Immorality, impurity and sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, (Gal. 5:21 NAU)
TRANS: It’s no surprise then, given that kind of company, that since it does desire to destroy, that it actually does do that.
Jealousy destroys both the one who is envious and the one against whom the envy is cast.
Jealousy destroys both the one who is envious and the one against whom the envy is cast.
Song of Solomon 8:6 says, in the context of a husband and a wife, that jealousy is as severe as the grave.
You say, “Well, I don’t want to kill anyone like Cain did.” Sure, but jealousy …
… destroys the one who sins with it …
Proverbs 27:4 4 Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy?
Job 5:2 2 “For anger slays the foolish man, And jealousy kills the simple.
Proverbs 14:30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
Your spiritual and physical health will greatly decline under the influence of jealousy.
TRANS: And of course it can destroy the one at whom it is directed…
It destroys the one against whom it is directed
Proverbs 6:34 34 For jealousy enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
Somebody who broods and stews in their jealousy … it will eventually come out in a day of vengeance.
There he is, brooding, becoming bitter, angry, letting jealousy consume the mind and over time his life becomes a living nightmare. The heart becomes filled with hatred and animosity, it spills over into his relationships with others. Under its influence, he slowly loses control of his own soul and is leaving destruction in his wake.
ILL: In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago says to Othello, “Beware of jealousy, my lord! It’s a green-eyed monster that makes fun of the victims it devours.”
Jealousy devours the one who is jealous and then mocks him.
ILL: But yet, it’s so elusive, so secretive, like an evil henchmen wringing his hands in the darkness. What is behind all of these destroyed relationships?
ILL: It’s like a fox. There is a fox that lives near our house. If you go on a walk in the wintertime, you can see its tracks. Sometimes when I’m driving down our gravel road I see this little fox spring up and then start sprinting alongside me traveling at an amazing speed. And then all of a sudden … it’s gone!
And if you try to chase after it, it’s impossible. Jealousy is like that little fox. You could be walking along the road of life and all you see are the footprints of anger and broken relationship and you begin to wonder, “How did this get here?”
The little fox of jealousy has been here. The evidence is clear…we have a problem … but how on earth did we get here?
TRANS: Jealousy leads to other sins and it’s typically those other sins that you see. You live with the horrible sin, but you don’t know what beast left them behind.
It leads to other sins (James 3:14-16).
Thomas Brooks, the Puritan writer in his book Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices, writes that one of Satan’s great devices against the saints is …
By working them first to be cold, and then allowing some division, and then to be bitter and jealous, and then ‘to bite and devour one another’ (Gal. 5:15) 
And a church who is experiencing the pain of jealousy will begin to wonder, “how did this happen? How did we get here?” We see the tracks of a beast, we see such great destruction and evil, but what sinful beast caused all this?
I referenced many works in preparation for this message and one thing that stood out was how elusive this sin is.
Why is there such discord in a church where previously there were such unity? At one time they were getting along and encouraging one another but now there is such animosity … and they don’t know why …. “How did we get here? How did it happen?”
Like the most hideous contagious disease, someone gets the disease and it spreads, like any form of anger, it’s extremely contagious.
A church member longs for control, longs for power, and then when the lust has been fulfilled, it’s not as satisfying. And so jealousy against the one who seems to have the power or the gifts sets in and so does disorder and every evil thing.
James 3:14–16 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
Where the jealous fox lurks, you’ll know it because it will leave behind disorder and every evil thing. It’s demonic.
People who are jealous cannot rejoice with those who rejoice. But love does!
In many cases, it’s jealousy and the anger of jealousy has spread like gangrene.
A congregation can be envious of another congregation, whose pastor they hear on the radio and they want that Pastor to pastor them. A pastor can be envious because he sees another congregation responding to him in a way that his own congregation does not.
We need to be content with the gifts and the people that we have. We are not be envious of each other’s gifts and we ought not be envious of any other church or ministry.
TRANS: Now, finally, the direction for those who are jealous.
The Direction for those who are jealous
There is no sin conquered, there is no world conquered, without the gospel! Christ’s death and resurrection and the benefits are essential powers and meditations to get over any sin.
It was envy that Satan used to put Jesus on the cross. It says in Matthew 27:18 that the Pharisees had handed Jesus over because of envy. They saw the crowds, the miracles, the throngs of people, and it so stirred in them … they wanted that too!
But praise the Lord, that very same envy that Satan used to crucify Jesus. When Jesus was crucified, His death paid the penalty for all of that envy and more, for all of time!
With the power of Christ’s death and resurrection working in me, as I trust in him, he delivers me from sin. And so …
1. Don’t believe the lies
Just like with any sin, there are lies behind jealousy and envy. Somebody who is envious of another believes that they must have what somebody else has to feel significant or happy. But that’s a big fat lie!
“I’ll be happy when I’m married like she is, or with more money, or with kids, or with women, wine, work, whatever!” “I wish I had…” No, that’s a lie! You’re breeding discontentment and envy.
The LORD says in Jeremiah…
Jeremiah 2:13 13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To dig for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water.
You don’t need better looks, more talents, more friends, marriage, that anyone else has. And you need to tell yourself that you don’t need that.
Repent of believing those lies! Ask for and receive forgiveness from the Lord.
2. Recognize that God is good in his providence
What do you have that you didn’t receive? Every good thing is from our Father! That’s also true for the one you’re jealous of. Gifts in the church are distributed by God! We are more or less gifted because God has made us that way! No sense in being jealous over or boasting about what God himself has determined should be the amount of gifting! God is good, He controls everything. Why fight with Providence?
You could be the moon and still be jealous of the stars! Be careful to praise God for being good to you! You have Christ’s eternal righteousness and His great and precious promises, too. What more do you need than His good will? And so #3…
3. Cultivate thankfulness and contentment
“Just a little bit more.” Truth be told, you’re discontent. And the very thing you’re discontent or jealous over is your idol. If you’re envious of that person because of their spirituality or giftedness or their family, that’s your idol. Cultivate thankfulness in your life by meditating on God’s grace and love to you; and instead, rejoice with those who rejoice! Be thankful for gifted men and women.
And she’s a sinner just like you; we all deserve death, but we’ve all been given life in Christ.
When it comes down to it, what I need is in His word. I can be entirely content in Christ, complete in Him. And so can you.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.4 Part 2 Love is not Jealous
477 More Love to Thee “Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and I rest.” not control, not power, not fame and fortune.
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A. Boyd Luter Jr., “Jealousy, Zeal,” ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 462. ↑