By, Isam Itson III
I remember watching one of my friends as she gave her two young sons a snack to share. She told her older son, “Break the roll in half, but your brother gets to pick first.” It took so long you would have thought he was doing heart surgery. He was being so careful to make certain that each piece would be exactly the same size. He was not about to let his younger brother have even one more crumb than him.
Love is happy for people when God blesses them. Love says, “good for them”. Love does not say, “what about me?” The loving person is happy for the good things that happen to other people and content with what God has already given them. The loving person actively desires and celebrates the blessing of God upon others. They want people to achieve and succeed. The success of others adds to their own experience of happiness and sense of personal well being.
Envy or jealousy is rooted in a worldview that says there is not enough for everyone. Resources are scarce so you have to fight to protect your portion. In contrast, love is generous of heart. Generosity is rooted in the certain belief that there is enough for everyone to thrive. There is more than enough for all seven billion of us to fulfill our God given responsibility to contribute meaningfully and directly to the well being of others as God’s co-rulers on earth. Love revels in the fact that God gives different gifts and resources to different people. Love does not care who gets the credit as long as God is glorified and his love for all people is honored.
Love is content and celebrates the accomplishments and blessings of others. This attitude of gratitude and generosity is rooted in a worldview that is convinced there is more than enough time, resources, and opportunities for everyone to thrive and excel in their particular pursuit of a meaningful, and constructive life. Simply put, a worldview that tends toward jealousy and envy sees only scarcity. A worldview that tends toward contentment and gratitude is consumed by the overwhelming abundance, potency and variety of life.
Jesus said it like this in Matthew 6:25-31 and 34, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
God has provided everything we need to love him and to honor his love for the people around us. We don’t need to worry about our well being. Therefore we are free to energetically and persistently meet the needs of our families, friends, neighbors, and enemies. And we can celebrate and honor God’s goodness and faithfulness in relationship to them.
Their good fortune does not take away from our opportunity. It should encourage our faith in God to bless our efforts in his name as well. Especially if we are not publicly recognized by other people. In Matthew 6:3,4 Jesus said, “when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
The generous person knows that God has enough wisdom, provision, and opportunity for them to bless others in his name. They are grateful to God for the life and purpose that he has given them in Jesus Christ. And they are even more grateful for the life and purpose that God has given others. The generous person encourages and celebrates the glorification of God in the faithful, creative, and worthwhile service of others. They have no concern for themselves because they are grateful, gracious and free from fear.
Love is not jealous of others. Love is generous to others and grateful to God for the gift and provision of life in creation, the redemption of our lives in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the comfort of God’s everlasting presence given to us by the Holy Spirit of God who lives in all of us who believe in God and follow Jesus Christ.
God made us to pursue excellence in faithful and extravagant service to others. Not to gain the praise and attention of others, but to honor the extravagance and excellence of God’s love for them revealed in the exuberance of God’s creation and the unreserved sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ. Love is not jealous. Love is generous.
1. Do you celebrate the success of others?
2. Do you struggle with feelings of not having enough? How do changes in the economy effect your feelings about your provision?
3. Is it easy for you to work without praise or reward? Are you able to allow someone else to take credit?
If you struggle in any of these areas you are not alone. Take a moment and pray.