love does not envy and does not boast…

This last Sunday, we took the time to process through the two assertions from 1st Corinthians 13 that “love does not envy and does not boast.” Here’s a summary of what we unpacked:



When you take a look at the way 1st Corinthians 13:4 is translated in the various English versions of the Bible, here’s what you come up with:

  • does not envy” – ESV, HCSB, NIV, NKJV, WEB
  • is not jealous” – NASB, NCT, NLT
  • is not envious” – NET
  • does not want what it doesn’t have” – MSG

Here, in my head, is the immediate question when I read this verse:

So if “God is love,” but “love is not jealous,” then how is it that God could be a jealous God?

The word in the Old Testament (seen in Exodus 20:5 and other passages) and the word used in the New Testament both have in their roots the idea of INTENSE HEAT. The word in the Greek, in fact, when read out loud sounds like the word “zealous.” Paul uses the same word in 1st Corinthians 12:31 when he challenged the church of Corinth to keep  “earnestly desiring” spiritual gifts but to even be more desiring of a “more excellent way” (love). So, if the words are not different within the phrases “God is jealous” and “love is not jealous,” then the question posed still remains. It leads to a possible hypothesis:

Can there be a “good” jealousy?

Paul declares such. 2nd Corinthians 11:2–3:

2  For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 3  But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

A “godly jealously” – what is that??? The bottom line idea here and in many other passages where regarding jealousy is really about being ZEALOUS SELFISHLY or SELFLESSLY. This is evidenced by the fact that some versions of the Bible translate the “zealous” thought as “is not envious” or “does not want what it doesn’t have.” The difference in a good jealousy and a bad jealousy is simply this – MY gain or YOUR gain.

When you love someone, you do not show them “intense heat” just because you are not getting what you want. Then you would be zealous in a selfish manner, focused only on personal gain. However, when you love someone, you do show them “intense heat” when they make a choice that causes them to miss out on exactly what would have been the most gain to them. Then you would be zealous in a selfless manner, focused on their gain.

God is “jealous” for us to have abundant life, so much so that He would give up everything, including His only Son, for us to have abundant life. His loss for our gain. A Godly jealousy, or zealousy, if you will.

THE POINT: Paul is basically saying that when I  love someone, I don’t exhibit SELFISH ZEALOUSY toward them in any manner of the relationship. If I do, then I would not be showing them love. And, if I don’t show love, then I am not showing them God (see the post from Tuesday). When I am zealous about a cause that only affects me, the result is normally selfish action, not love. The relationship breaks down at the point when envy breaks in.



When you take a look at the way 1st Corinthians 13:4 is translated in the various English versions of the Bible, here’s what you come up with:

  • does not boast” – ESV, NIV
  • is not boastful” – HCSB, NLT
  • does not brag” – NET, NASB, NCT, WEB
  • does not parade itself” – NKJV
  • doesn’t strut” – MSG

The word used here can mean “to think too highly of oneself, to elevate oneself above others, to become haughty, or to be lifted up with pride.” It is definitely a selfishness that reveals what is really going on in the heart exposed through the tongue.

Now, you will hear stuff like:

“If you done it, it ain’t bragging.” [Walt Whitman]

“You have to do a little bragging on yourself even to your relatives, for man doesn’t get anywhere without advertising.” [John Nance Garner]

“I’m not bragging, but…” [all of us at some point]

But think about these:

“Tell me what you brag about, and I’ll tell what you lack.” [Spanish proverb]

“If you claim to be humble, you’re not humble.” [Dad]

“A holy man is not aware that he is holy. As soon as we begin to talk about how holy we are, we are not holy any more.” [AW Tozer]

“Therefore let him who thinks he stand take heed so that he does not fall.” [Paul, 1st Corinthians 10:12, NASB]

The moment we brag is the moment we are making much of ourselves rather than making much of God and even making much of others. When we brag, others taste ME instead of Love. No one wants to hang long around someone who only talks about themselves, and everyone who does eventually feels the need to talk about themselves, too. Thus, love is absent, and the relationship breaks down.

PRAY_Lord, please grow in me a heart like Yours – ZEALOUS for others gain and NOT JEALOUS for my own gain. And Lord, please tame my tongue, that I might make much of You and less of me.

LIVE_Have the courage to speak and act with “intense heat” when you see a friend teetering on the edge of destruction about to lose all that was intended for his/her gain. And, listen more than you talk. It helps to squelch the bragging. Be more concerned about the story of someone else’s life than them knowing everything about yours.

Tune in Saturday for THE BOTTOM LINE about jealousy and bragging. Love y’all!


One thought on “love does not envy and does not boast…

  1. Pingback: the bottom line on “love does not envy and does not boast” « as i live sent daily

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s