One Man

Depending on your theology, you believe something about the Book of Revelation. No matter what you believe, there is one Man who knows the truth; the one Man who is the truth:

…God our Savior…desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:3-6 English Standard Version (ESV)

Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ knows His Father’s plans and is coming back soon.

I know of no starker rendering of His urgent warning to us all:

False messiahs and false prophets will come and do great miracles and wonders, trying to fool the people God has chosen, if that is possible. Now I have warned you about this before it happens.

“Someone might tell you, ‘The Messiah is there in the desert!’ But don’t go into the desert to look for him. Someone else might say, ‘There is the Messiah in that room!’

But don’t believe it. When the Son of Man comes, everyone will see him. It will be like lightning flashing in the sky that can be seen everywhere. It’s like looking for a dead body: You will find it where the vultures are gathering above.

Matthew 24:24-28 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

We know our Redeemer has come to earth in the flesh to suffer, die, and rise again. Don’t be misled. Be ready. Believe Him. Hear Him and obey.

Children Of Time, The Choir, YouTube, The Choir Videos, Lyrics

Envy

Parrott and Smith (1993) say, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, that envy is an emotion which “occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it.” The dictionary defines envy as:

Envy. [ˈenvē]

NOUN – A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck: “She felt a twinge of envy for the people on board.” Synonyms: jealousy · covetousness · resentment · bitterness · discontent

VERB – Desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else): “He envied people who did not have to work on weekends.” Synonyms: be envious of · be jealous of · begrudge · be resentful of

And Wikipedia has a remarkably comprehensive list of biblical references on envy.

At the end of 2015, we covered the topic of envy, as presented by the Apostle Paul, in our post Honor Our Feet.

Here, let us consider the Apostle James warning against bitter jealousy and selfish ambition:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:1-3 English Standard Version (ESV)

The theologian, John Calvin, makes three main points about the passage. First, Calvin states that their strife arises from acting on unchecked desires:

From whence come wars. …They created confusion among themselves [by their contentions]; and…these arose from their invidious desires and lusts, rather than from a zeal for what was just and right; for if everyone observed moderation, they would not have [injured] one another. They had their hot conflicts, because their lusts were allowed to prevail unchecked…

But their contentious actions brought no satisfaction as they had hoped; only punishment:

You lust, or covet, and have not. …They derived no benefit from [violent] contentions [which prevailed among them] for…they received the punishment of their own wickedness. God, indeed, whom they owned not as the author of blessings, justly disappointed them.

…For when they contended in ways so unlawful, they sought to be enriched through the favor of Satan rather than through the favor of God…It was therefore no wonder that they were frustrated in their efforts [to be happy], since no success can be expected except through the blessings of God alone.

And finally, Calvin says in summation, subjecting our desires to God brings about peace and His blessings:

You seek and receive not. In short…James meant briefly this, — that our desires ought to be bridled: and the way of bridling them is to subject them to the will of God [i.e., His will as revealed in the scriptures]. And he also teaches us, that what we in moderation wish, we ought to seek from God himself; which if it be done, we shall be preserved from wicked contentions, from fraud and violence, and from doing any injury to others.

Do you envy someone? Do you want to stop envying that person? You can through Christ. Please trust Him.

Cain Kills Abel, circa 1610, Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582–1622)

Cain kills Abel, circa 1610, Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582–1622), public domain in the United States

It’s Not About You

We live in a self-centered world. From identity politics to Twitter, FoMO to twenty-four-hour cable news, safe spaces to speech codes, we focus on what pleases us, amuses us, or fills us with self-importance. We think everything revolves around us and if it doesn’t, it should. We see it on campuses, on the campaign trail, and at international summits that ultimately do little to mitigate climate change in the end.

Our culture often frames this untenable condition in terms of unrequited love. The band, Scouting for Girls, sets this theme to a catchy tune. Please be aware that the lyrics contain mild innuendoes (yes, a trigger warning):

Scouting For Girls – It’s Not About You, Lyrics

To this situation we find ourselves in, we must say with the Apostle James:

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

James 3:10 English Standard Version (ESV)

Worse still, agreeing with the Apostle Paul, we see that we go along recklessly with them:

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Therefore, you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

Romans 1:32-2:1 (ESV)

But, the Lord Jesus, through the Apostle John, puts the matter in perspective:

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

John 12:25 (ESV)

Much has been written on the interpretation of this verse. Calvin says in part:

He who, under the influence of immoderate desire of the present life, cannot leave the world but by constraint, is said to love life; but he who, despising life, advances courageously to death, is said to hate life.

Not that we ought absolutely to hate life, which is justly reckoned to be one of the highest of God’s blessings;

but because believers ought to cheerfully lay it down, when it retards them from approaching to Christ;

just as a man, when he wishes to make haste in any matter, would shake off from his shoulders a heavy and disagreeable burden.

Further, we are to live for the good of others:

So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Romans 12:5, 10, 16 (ESV)

Yet, if we’re honest with ourselves and others, we don’t give others honor or affection:

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 5:15, 26; 6:2 (ESV)

But, if we trust the Father to do for us that which we do not do (i.e., change our behavior), then:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:11, 15 (ESV)

However, heed this admonition with a warning. Do not neglect it at your peril:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:7, 20, 21 (ESV)

The Lord Jesus Christ offers us an escape from our self-centeredness, if only we’d trust in His saving work on the cross.