This year, I have been studying the different aspects of charity mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This month’s topic is “Charity envieth not.”
The definition of envy is: a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
I think it’s interesting that the word “covet” is included in the definition of envy. As we know, “Thou shalt not covet” is one of the Ten Commandments. I believe that having charity is intricately tied to keeping the commandments. How can our love be pure if our motives are not?
The opposite of envy is generosity. I think as we look to be generous with our time, our talents, and our material wealth, we will be less concerned about what we don’t have and more concerned about what others need. That is why I think it is so important to set aside some money or time every month to give to someone else. If we do that, we will consciously be looking for people to bless and spend less time worrying about what someone else has that we don’t.
One thing that has really struck me this month is that I tend to be envious of my own time. I guard it like a miser guards his gold. I resist giving it to anyone because I have my own schedule and my own agenda, and I don’t like it when something or someone gets in the way of my plan. A few weeks ago, I admitted to myself that I had an adversarial relationship with time. Time had become an enemy, or at least something I coveted or envied. I decided to start thinking of time in terms of abundance. I thought that if I could quit coveting my time, I could share it more freely, which would in turn help me develop more charity. Do you ever hold back your love from someone because you don’t think you have enough time to minister to them? Or even worse, because you don’t want to spend the time? What if we quit envying our time and instead became generous with it, sharing it with everyone who needed it? How would that increase our charity?
I also truly believe that gratitude is the antidote for envy. If we’re grateful for what we have, we don’t have time to envy what someone else has. Our blessings fill our sight, and envy falls away. For the last week, I have tried to write down the ways I have seen God’s hand in my life. This has been a wonderful exercise in gratitude. Gratitude truly does chase away envy. Gratitude sharpens our spiritual eyesight and makes us more charitable.