Summer of Love: Love is not Jealous

July 9, 2017

George Harrison was there, as were The Who, Janice Joplin, Jimi
Hendrix and Jerry Garcia. 
They had joined the so called hippies and flower children who had
descended on San Francisco to celebrate, demonstrate and as Timothy Leary so
famously said to  “Turn on, Tune In and
Drop Out.”
And this year there will be celebrations recognizing what happened
that summer.  
But that wasn’t all that happened in the United States 50 years
ago.  As the City of San Francisco was
trying to deal with the logistics of feeding and sheltering 100,000 teens and
young adults the rest of the country was dealing with something of a much
darker nature.
There will be no celebrations to remember was has been called the
“Long Hot Summer of 1967.
In the summer of 67, 159 Race riots broke out in Detroit and Tampa
and all places in between.  Before the
summer was over 76 people would have died more than 2,100 were injured and over
11,000 arrests were made.  
The images of that event were very different than what was happening
on the West Coast and there will be no celebrations to recognize the “Long Hot
Summer of 1967”
This Summer at Cornerstone we are celebrating a different “Summer of
love” as we spend ten weeks focused on 1 Corinthians 13.
This is week 3 of our series and as we’ve done the past two weeks,
this week we are going to read the Passage together. 
1 Corinthians 13:1-13  If I
could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I
would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I
understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had
such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be
nothing.  If I gave everything I have to
the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t
love others, I would have gained nothing. 
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or
rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no
record of being wronged.  It does not
rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is
always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages
and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!  Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete,
and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!  But when full understanding comes, these
partial things will become useless.  When
I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up,
I put away childish things.  Now we see
things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with
perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will
know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.  Three things will last forever—faith, hope,
and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Last week we looked at the first two positive attributes of Love,
Patience and Kindness.  And we talked
about how we need to be patient with Ourselves, with Others and With God.  And then we looked at how we needed to be
kind to others, that one was kind of a no-brainer.  
This week we are going to take the next step in verse four where we
are told that Love is not Jealous.
So let’s begin with The Definition of Jealous. 
When we think of the word “Jealous” we think of being jealous of
someone or something. 
That is, we are afraid they are sharing their affections, or sharing
more than just their affections, with another person or thing.  We can be jealous of people, of things, I’ve
heard wives say, “I’m sure he loves that motorcycle, car, boat, fill in the blank
more than he loves me”.  And people can
be jealous of activities.  Like work or
hobbies, and sometimes with good reasons.
Which lines up with what Robert A. Heinlein wrote “Jealousy is a
disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for
the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy – in
fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the
other.”
And when we think of love in the sense of romantic love that makes
sense, Love is not Jealous.
However. . . How many folks here have ever seen the movie “The
Princess Bride”?  How many have seen it
more than once?  Yeah, it’s that type of
movie. 
And there is a great line in it, one of the characters is always
using the word “Inconceivable” and finally we hear this response from another
character says “you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you
think it means.”
And when we use Jealous in this passage, I do not think it means
what you think it means.
You see, the word jealous fits well when this passage is read at
weddings or we think of it as applying to marriage but while 1 Corinthians 13
does apply to weddings and marriages, that isn’t what Paul was originally
intending the passage for.
We’ve been down this road before, but let’s go down it again.  We’ve spoken before about how the New
Testament was written in Greek and how that language tended to use more words
to reflect the meaning of a thought then we do in English. 
When you think about it the English language is a really lazy
language.  For example the word fast, you
ever think about what fast means.  It can
mean that you are quick, or it can mean that colours don’t run, or it can mean
to tie something up, or it can mean that someone is morally loose, or it can
mean to not eat, or it can mean that your watch has gained time or it can mean
that you are loyal or it can mean that you are sleeping soundly, or it can mean
that you are close to something.
Fast is a Homonym, which means the words sounds the same and are
spelled the same but they have different meanings.  Not to be confused with a Homophone which are
two words that are sound the same but are spelled differently.  Like The Bay of Fundy has the highest Tide in
the world, I wish I had of known that when I Tied my boat up.   Or I read the red book.
And while technically Love is a Homonym, think of love the emotion
and love the tennis score, it goes deeper than that.
We throw the word love around to mean almost anything we are fond
of.  I love “”America’s Got Talent” It’s
one of our summer guilty TV pleasures, along with Private Eyes.  I love convertibles, I love flying, I love
pizza, I love my kids, I love my wife, I love my grand-girls, and I love all of
you.  But I love each of those things in
different ways, but I describe my feelings with one word. 
The Greek language however has several different words that are used
to convey love for different things. 
First there is Eros, which is a sensual love, a passionate love.  Eros was the name of the Greek god of
desire.  The Romans called him
Cupid. 
Eros is the love that you should feel for your spouse.
The next form of love was Philia and this is the warm fuzzy feeling
we have for those nearest and dearest to us. 
This is friendship.  Have you ever
wondered why Philadelphia is called the city of brotherly love? 
Then there is Storge, and this is affection, what you feel for your
parents or children.  Many years ago, my
sister gave my mother a plaque that says, “I love you more then you love me,
because you have only loved me for part of your life and I have loved you for
all of mine.”  Cute. 
That was back when if you wanted to say things like, you bought
someone a plaque or a poster instead of simply tagging them in a meme on
Facebook. 
But Paul doesn’t use any of those words for love instead he uses the
word Agape.  And agape is less a feeling
of the heart and more a feeling of the mind. 
It is as much an act of the will as an act of the emotions.  It is why Jesus can tell us to love our
enemies.  It is a conscious action,
something that you decide to do and something that you cannot do without the
power of the Holy Spirit in your life.
So that’s a long meandering path to the fact that the word that the
New Living Translation translates as “is not Jealous” is more accurately
translated in the New International Version as
does not Envy or in the King James Version as does not covet.   
And there is a world of difference between Jealousy and envy as that
great 20th century scholar Homer Simpson once said “I’m not jealous! I’m
envious. Jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have … envy is
wanting what someone else has.”
And that’s not entirely true. 
The Merriam Webster Dictionary states,  
“So while jealous may be used to mean both “covetous” and “possessively
suspicious”, envious is only comfortable in the first of those two senses”
So, with that in mind let’s look at The Danger of Envy 
You ever think about the Ten Commandments?  They got some big ticket items in there,
don’t kill, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t give false testimony
against other people. 
And you can kind of understand those things, they attack the very
things that hold society together, but then the 10 commandments end by saying
Exodus 20:17  “You must not covet your
neighbour’s house. You must not covet your neighbour’s wife, male or female
servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbour.”
Story is told about the boy in Sunday School  and when the teacher asked if anyone knew
what the 10th Commandment was?  He said
“I do, you must not take the covers off your neighbour’s wife.”   Guess that works too.
And if the earlier commandments seem like felonies, then coveting
seems like a misdemeanor.   If the other
would warrant serious jail time surely covetousness would only deserve a slap on
the wrist or at the most a small fine.
But if that was the case then why bother putting it in the Ten
Commandments?  Seriously, most of us
could think of at least one commandment to replace the coveting one.  It would be littering for me.  Thou shalt not litter.
But coveting isn’t a harmless pastime,  listen to what Jesus says in Matthew
5:27-28  “You have heard the commandment
that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 
But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already
committed adultery with her in his heart.” 
So, Jesus tells us that adultery begins when you covet someone
sexually.
The first murder recorded in the bible happened in Genesis when Adam
and Eve’s oldest son Cain murdered his younger brother.  And that didn’t just happen out of the blue,
“I think I’ll kill Abel today.” 
It began with the two brothers offered sacrifices to God and the
bible tells us that God accepted Abel’s and rejected Cain’s.  The reasons are a whole other sermon.    And what began with Cain coveting that
acceptance ended with him murdering his brother.
Mark Twain nailed it when he wrote 
“There is no such thing as material covetousness. All covetousness is
spiritual. …Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol:
you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the
moment.”
The reason that “Do Not Covet” was included in the Ten Commandments
was that it is the seed that all the other sin’s spring from. 
It was the seed of covetousness that Satan sowed in the Garden with
Adam and Eve when he told them that they could be like God. 
It was the same seed that Satan tried to sow with Jesus when he
tempted him in the wilderness. 
And coveting what another person has will eventually destroy your
love for them.
Oliver Stone summed it up when he said “Never underestimate the
power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that.”
The best example of that danger is recorded in Matthew 27:18 . . .
the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.  
Jesus had what the religious leaders of the day didn’t have, he had
the respect of the people, he had an insight into God, he knew the truth and
they didn’t and they figured they couldn’t have what he had and if that was the
case then they didn’t want him to have it either. 
The religious leaders had Jesus killed because they coveted what he
had.
You see that is the reality of envy, in order for you to be happy it
is not enough for you to succeed, others must fail. 
There wasn’t room enough in the world of the religious leaders for
them and for Jesus, so for them the solution was to get rid of Jesus.
And that is why the New Testament is full of warning about
envy. 
Jesus warns us in Mark 7:21-23 
“For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual
immorality, theft, murder,  adultery,
greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and
foolishness.  All these vile things come
from within; they are what defile you.”
Did you catch what envy was lumped in with?  Murder, sexual immorality, theft,
wickedness.  And then Jesus tells us that
it makes you unacceptable to God.  Which
was why Paul warned the early church in 
Romans 1:29  Their lives became
full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling,
deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.
Envy is not a game, it is a sin and it is dangerous.  It’s dangerous for you and it’s dangerous for
your relationships. 
Which is why William Penn wrote more than 300 years ago  “Covetousness is the greatest of monsters, as
well as the root of all evil.”
So, what should we do? Good question, and a question that leads us
to  The Defense Against Envy
The first thing we must do is acknowledge that coveting is not just
a bad habit, that it is a sin.  Francis
Xavier wrote “I have heard thousands of confessions, but never one of
covetousness.”
Why would that be?  Because
people don’t take covetousness serious. 
But we need to.   Remember God
took it serious enough to include it in the 10 commandments.  Why? 
Because it is the seed of all other sins.  
And then we need to understand that if we are to win the battle
against covetousness it will only happen when we surrender ourselves to
contentment.
And that begins with understanding contentment.  Sometimes we think that being content means
we have no desire to better ourselves or to improve our lot in life.  So really poor people who don’t seem to want
to rise out of their poverty would seem to be content.  But that isn’t necessarily the truth. 
Or we think being content means having lots of money and toys and
not wanting or needing more.  But that
isn’t always the reality either.
Understand, money can’t buy contentment and poverty doesn’t
necessarily provide contentment.  
Contentment isn’t about possessions, it is a state of mind.
Charles Ryrie wrote,  “One can
be covetous when he has little, much or anything in between, for covetousness
comes from the heart, not from the circumstances of life.”
Covetousness robs us of the joy of what we already have.  Contentment allows us to experience that
joy.   And that doesn’t mean we don’t
strive for more.  But we strive for what
we can earn, what we can achieve and that doesn’t have to happen at the expense
of others.  They don’t have to lose it so
we can gain it. 
Years ago I read an article about a guy who rose really rapidly in a
company, he was always getting promoted. 
And when asked about it he said that he was always on the lookout for a
better position or job. . . for his immediate supervisor. And he would let them
know and recommend them he would do everything in his power to help them get
promoted. 
And contentment isn’t easy. 
If it was everybody would be content. 
But it would appear that in our sinful nature that Envy is the
default.  That’s why Paul wrote in
Philippians 4:11  . . . , for I have
learned how to be content with whatever I have.
Contentment didn’t just happen for Paul, he had to learn how to be
content.  And when he wrote to Timothy he
tells him, and by default he tells us.  1
Timothy 6:6-8  Yet true godliness with
contentment is itself great wealth. 
After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and
we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.  So if we have enough food and clothing, let
us be content.
Contentment is enjoying what we have and understanding that
discontentment is brought about by envy.  
And envy is basically selfish and usually completely unrealistic.  Because if we were honest, there are probably
good reasons why we don’t have what we don’t have.
Garrison Keillor sums it up when he wrote  “I think if the church put in half the time
on covetousness that it does on lust, this would be a better world for all of
us.”