1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,…
To see that envy is utterly incompatible with charity, we need but glance at some of its characteristic qualities and fruits.
I. CHARITY IS DISINTERESTED GOODNESS; ENVY IS UNMINGLED SELFISHNESS. It would grasp all riches, absorb all enjoyment, engross all admiration and esteem. Every superior and every rival would it destroy, and live alone in an impoverished or depopulated universe. The envious man, like Gideon's fleece, would absorb every particle of moisture that falls from heaven, and leave all around him dewless as the desert.
II. CHARITY IS THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE HEART; ENVY IS AS MALICIOUS AS IT IS SELFISH. Joseph was hated by his brethren because he was beloved by his father, and because his dream made him their superior. And Haman was full of indignation against Mordecai because he held a high place in the favour of the king. And the same evil spirit inflamed the wrath of Saul against David. The envious man resents the good of others, as if it were an injury to himself. Envy is like the ocean, which because it cannot shine as the firmament does, would shroud the starry lustre of the latter with its vapoury exhalations. Nay, in order to enjoy the glimmer of its own rushlight, it would extinguish the sun and leave the world in darkness.
III. CHARITY IS A MEEK AND GENTLE SPIRIT; ENVY IS AS OUTRAGEOUS AS IT IS MALICIOUS. It is "cruel as death and insatiable as the grave." There is in its hate an inhuman fierceness, in its action a diabolical fury, which respect no dignity, reverence no sanctity, pause abashed at no splendid array of virtue. What slew Caesar, and banished Cicero. and put out the eyes of Belisarius, but a merit too great for wealth to reward or envy to endure? Envy murdered Abel at his altar, and nailed the Son of God upon the Cross. Envy first blighted the bloom of paradise, and ever since it has raged through the scene of its ruin, filling the earth with dire confusion, and every evil work; and well saith the wisest of ancient monarchs, "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous, but who can stand before envy?"
IV. CHARITY IS READY UNTO EVERY GOOD WORK; ENVY IS MISCHIEVOUS. There is no injury it would not inflict upon its happier neighbour. It would poison your peace and blacken your fame. Who shall set bounds to its wickedness, or limit its baleful power? Has it not rifled the richest treasuries, thwarted the shrewdest policies, conquered the mightiest warriors, and subverted the proudest thrones? If there is any exemption from the inflictions of envy, it is only in the case of those who have nothing for which they can be envied, whose obscurity is their fortress, whose poverty is their panoply. The tornado may spare the willows, but woe to the oaks! Never pitying, never relenting, envy follows its victim to the very grave, and tramples upon his ashes, and desecrates his memory, and persecutes his posterity.
V. CHARITY IS FREE FROM DECEIT; ENVY IS HYPOCRITICAL. Pride, anger, gluttony, drunkenness, etc., are ordinarily frank and open. But envy, conscious that it is an unnatural disposition, having more the rancour of a fiend than the temper of a man, and branded by common consent with a stigma deep and foul, conceals its real nature. As Bishop Ball says, "It is indeed a most reputable and orthodox vice, a regular church-going sin, dressing like virtue and talking like piety. It has a great zeal for religion, a keen sense of public justice, and is much shocked at the inconsistencies of good people. It exults when the hypocrite is unmasked and exclaims — 'Ah! I told you so; I always suspected him.' It is also most benevolent; and when adversity overtakes a brother, prays devoutly that it may be the means of promoting his humility and other Christian graces."
VI. CHARITY IS FRAUGHT WITH DIVINE PEACE AND CONTENTMENT; ENVY IS MISERABLE. Hating and hated, can it know anything of a good conscience and a cheerful mind? Deceitful and treacherous, must it not be like the troubled sea that cannot rest? Baffled and chagrined, will it not become desperate, and turn its fangs upon itself, and devour its own vitals? Conclusion: Charity and envy are as much opposed as light and darkness. Charity is from above; envy is from beneath. Charity is the fruit of the Spirit; envy is the work of the flesh. Charity is the outgrowth of the new heart; envy is the product of the carnal mind. Charity is as pure as the mountain stream; envy is as foul as the city sewer. Charity is as harmless as the gentle dove; envy is as deadly as the viper's fang. Charity is as tranquil as the summer evening; envy is as restless as the troubled sea. Charity is as tender and pitiful as an angel; envy is as heartless and cruel as a demon. Charity is the spirit of Christ and the temper of heaven, envy is the rankling selfishness which makes the immitigable woe of the lost, the wormwood and gall transfused through all the faculties and feelings of a reprobate immortality. No two principles could be more antagonistic and irreconcilable.
(J. Cross, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,