Love does not envy or boast (vs. 4).
The other day, I had a dream. I was riding on a skateboard. Doing tricks so carefree, with the wind in my face and cheering fans all around. Then I woke up.
And I remembered: I can’t ride a skateboard. Not in a million years! I have all the athletic abilities of a beached whale…that’s been decaying for weeks. The one time I got on a skateboard, I fell off with the agility of a walrus.
Throughout my teen years, I always wished I could be athletically talented. Ride skateboards, be a star on the basketball team, score goals left and right in soccer. But I never could. I’d watch my friends do all sorts of awesome stuff—and be loved and adored for it. But I could never do those things. I wasn’t talented enough. I wasn’t athletic.
That’s when envy set in. And that’s our next action on true love’s list—love does not envy. The Greek word can literally mean to “boil over”—to desire something very strongly. To be jealous over someone else’s abilities, possessions, or circumstances. To be upset that you can’t shoot a ball like that guy. To get flustered that you don’t have all that wealth or fame. To be angry at a guy when he gets chosen and not you. Agape love never does any of that!
And love also does not boast. Literally, it does not “vaunt itself” or “parade itself.” I like that idea of parading. It brings to memory my favorite movie: The Emperor’s New Groove. In the opening sequence (complete with the theme song guy), Emperor Kuzco perfectly demonstrates what this word means—he parades himself around the palace, making sure the attention is all on him. And if someone, perchance, throws off this groove of self-glory—well, beware!
How do these two words connect? Well, they are ugly cousins. Envy is longing for the talents we don’t have. Boasting is showing off the talents we do have (or think we have). Often, they come together. We complain about our rival winning 1st place, but proceed to brag about how our entry was better anyway. We get so jealous over that guy’s promotion and rail on all we’ve done for the company. We really want to be athletic, but to make ourselves not feel bad, we brag about being smart or witty. I’m sure you can think of circumstances—probably even today—when you acted like that. When you embraced these ugly cousins. We parade ourselves through life, sneakily inserting our discontent about others into conversations while slipping in some of our accomplishments. It’s a daily ritual.
But Christ was never like this. The Son of God could easily have been envious at the prosperity and popularity of the Pharisees. He could have gotten really jealous over Barabbas’ release. But He didn’t. He took all the pain without complaint. Without envy. And He never paraded Himself around. To the contrary, I’m always shocked to read how many times he specifically tells healed people NOT to tell anyone that He healed them. If that was me, I would’ve posted that on Facebook within seconds: “Just healed a man born blind #awesomeness.” But Jesus isn’t like us—thankfully! He humbly lived His life with one goal in mind: to serve, not be served. To go to a cross.
It’s time for us to live like that. Today, if your boss praises your coworker, but not you, don’t get upset. Praise God that He gave you the job and seek to do your best for His glory only. If you see people getting opportunities to speak but you never get picked, don’t go talking about how much better you are than them and how you should’ve been chosen. Instead, congratulate them. Instead of wishing you had those skills, use the ones God’s given you! At church, instead of entering the building with your own theme song, telling everyone how awesome you were this week, go in looking to serve. Instead of parading your theology degrees for all to see, go clean a toilet.
Throw off your own groove. Rain on your own parade. That’s what love does.