Envy, Boasting and Arrogance, O My
Like lions, tiger and bears, o my, are the nature of envy, boasting and arrogance. “We’re not in DENIAL anymore, Toto.”
Of course these – envy, boasting & arrogance- are not words we like to reflect on. They are not words we want to admit we struggle with, and yet they exist loud and clear in our world.
In fact, ignoring them does not negate their presence. And pointing them out in others does not negate their presence in us. So, how should we take a look “under the hood” so to speak? How should we take a look at ourselves and identify envy, boasting and arrogance present within us?
And then, what are we to do about it?
First, let’s start by understanding why we even care if envy, arrogance and boasting are present in our character. Why should you care?
Well, we are told in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant.
If we want to be people of LOVE, carriers of love to the world around us, then these characteristics have to go.
What is envy? Envy is described as boiling over in hate and jealousy. It is jealousy at its extreme. Envy can lead a person to do things, to say things that are hurtful and even harmful to others. Envy is similar to unforgiveness in that it is like drinking the poison and expecting the other person to die. Envy is a poison. Proverbs 14:30 tells us, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
Envy rots the bones, it eats us up from the inside as we look from the inside out and compare, judge the ways, lives and blessings of others. Envy does not coexist with love.
Joseph’s brothers were examples of envy setting up camp in the hearts of men. Joseph’s brothers envy lead them to dump him in a pit and leave him for dead and then sell him as a slave. Joseph, a man born into a position of purpose he did not choose, had to bear the hurt and harm of his brother’s envy.
Yet God saw fit, “what was intended for evil God meant for good.” He used Joseph, the envied one, the one cast away, as the one He would use to rescue his people from famine and prosper them.
Envy reveals a lot about our heart, about what we value, and about what we believe we deserve and what others don’t deserve. It reveals our belief that we have the right to judge others’ worthiness.
1 Corinthians 13:4 also tells us that love does not boast. I understand this verse to mean that the Love in me doesn’t boast about the love in me. The love in me, the love in us stands on its own, without the need for boasting. The love in us is shown, demonstrated, acted on, it doesn’t need to be talked about or explained. It just is. It speaks for itself. It’s known because it’s shown.
To boast is described as “employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one’s self excessively.” Boasting points to a clear motivation behind the display or act of love. Boasting indicates more concern over “being noticed or applauded” for love than showing love as an overflow of the heart as Christ working in us.
“See what I did there…?” “See how I loved…?” “See how I served? “See how I provided for them?”
Where in your life are you serving with anticipation that someone will take notice and give you praise for the way you have served or loved others? This heart of motivation is the same as a boastful heart. Just because self-praise isn’t verbalized in this case, acting for the sake of someone else’s praise sprouts from the same boastful root.
Instead, as Christ grows in our hearts and lives the more we become unaware of our serving. Serving and loving others will become second nature. Serving and loving others well flows from us as easily as reciting our name and address.
Verse 4 tells us that love is envious or boastful. It also tells us that Love “is not arrogant.”
Arrogance is a close cousin of boasting. Arrogance is wrapped up in self, looking for affirmations because of the work instead of being concerned with the act of love and service and others. Arrogance puts self first. Arrogance inflates reality, it makes acts of love and service bigger than they are – assuming credit for all that is done.
Defining these words, envious, boastful and arrogant paints a picture that is clear about what love is not. To me, it seems obvious that love does not encompass these behaviors, yet we can easily get swept up in the “doing” more than the “being and becoming” of love.
Christ’s love at work in us molds and shapes us to be and become a person who does not love from an arrogant, envious and boastful place.
If love isn’t envious, boastful or arrogant, hate is. And love is the opposite. Generous, modest and humble. Love is Jesus. These characteristics are just the beginning of the person of Jesus, and we get to become like Him as we grow in relationship with Him.
A life surrendered to the power and presence of Jesus Christ will be transformed into His likeness. We no longer have to operate from hate, but out of the abundance of LOVE Christ has poured out on us.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”
The good news is that it is Christ at work in us that transforms us- from the inside out. He washed the imprint of the world on us, and he makes us new. He gives us hearts of flesh, replacing the hearts of stone. We become His, children of His glorious light.
Will you lean into Him today, will you ask Him to change you from the inside out to become more loving and to remove any boasting, envy or arrogance that may exist in your heart.
Lord God, thank you for removing the veil that covered our faces before we said yes to following after you. Help us today to reflect love and your glory to the world around us. Help guard our hearts from the patterns of this world that will lead us to believe we can both love and display envy, boasting and arrogance. Your word tells us that LOVE is not any of these but that LOVE is seen and displayed through the person of Jesus who is humble, generous, kind, gentle and so much more. Transform us from the inside out so that when we serve we serve and love from hearts that desire to bring glory to you and not to ourselves. You are where love is found. Draw all men to you. In Jesus name, amen.
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