The Bible warns us repeatedly not to envy. Envy “slays the simple” (Job 5:2), “rots the bones” (Prov. 14:30), and prevents us from inheriting the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). This is no less true in the area of politics than it is in any other area of our lives. When we allow envy to influence our political thoughts and behavior, that envy not only harms us but also the people in our lives. In fact, when you analyze it you can see that envy in politics actually causes chain reactions that can harm people you’ve never met before.
I included this in the last “Love Is” post, but I want to share it here again. The definition of envy is a “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” Reading that definition, do you think there is envy in politics? How could you not?
Love and Hatred in Politics
Many who read this probably have not been following this series from the beginning, so I will remind you that the reason I began studying 1 Corinthians 13 was because of all the accusations I heard, condemning the “right wing Christian conservatives” of being hateful. The irony of hatred coming from Christians was overwhelming to me. Irony? No, let’s call it hypocrisy! If the “Christian right” is hateful, me being a Christian, I wanted to know precisely what Christians are doing wrong. So I went to the Bible to find answers.
In 1 Corinthians 13, many of the words in the list are voiced in the negative. Love does NOT envy. Well then, isn’t it safe to say that someone who DOES envy is guilty of hate? If love is not proud, then someone who is proud is guilty of hate. Would you agree with that? If you disagree, I invite you to leave a comment and say so. But this is my understanding, that 1 Cor. 13 goes a long way towards helping us recognize love AND hatred in our own lives. The sad truth is that most hateful people do not even know that they are behaving hatefully.
Also equally true is that many people who accuse others of being hateful are expressing nothing more than their own displeasure and the accused are actually innocent. But that is a topic for another day.
I believe we see hatred in politics on a regular basis. If we apply the definition I quoted above, this “painful or resentful awareness” of advantages enjoyed by our political opponents – coupled with the desire to posses the same advantage – this saturates our political lives.
Class Warfare and Welfare
One of the most obvious examples plays itself out in the form of “class warfare.” When we have a painful or resentful awareness of someone else’s wealth, with the desire to make things more “fair,” that is envy. It is the most obvious form of envy in politics, but not the only example.
Going in the other direction, I saw a video on Facebook a few days ago of a girl talking about how wonderful it is to live in California if you “want” to be on welfare. The people who responded to that video saying “this makes me sick” are also expressing their envy. No, I am not saying that these people envy the girl on the video. It’s more subtle than that. They envy the power that their political opponents have that makes it possible for that girl to “get everything for free” (as she put it in the video). The people who are disgusted by the video would do something about it if they had the power to do so. They struggle desperately to muster enough political support to elect the people who would put an end to all the free rides.
The Bible says that this is wrong. 1 Cor. 13 says that “love doesn’t envy.”
I have personally observed a lot of examples of envy in politics. I encourage you to look for more examples yourself. Where do you see envy in politics?
A Serious Lack of Faith
The irony of envy from Christians in the context of politics is that it demonstrates a serious lack of faith. They fail to recognize God’s sovereignty and the power of the Holy Spirit. What would have happened if David didn’t know that God was with him on that battle field when he slew Goliath with a sling shot? It was NOT David himself who slew Goliath, it was God who did that, through David.
David was just a boy. A child. He couldn’t even wear a soldier’s armor because it was too heavy. This is not the kind of champion a sane man would support in a fierce battle of warriors. But David knew of God’s strength and power.
What room is there in your life for envy when you know the strength and power of the living God, the Alpha and Omega, and Author and Creator of all things? What is a mere giant to God?
No Room for Envy
As Christians, there is no room for envy in our lives, not even our political lives.
I understand well enough the way politics works. I understand that it’s all about getting your people into office. But I also know that our God is bigger than that. I also believe that when we do things the world’s way, we turn our back on the blessings God would give us. You cannot tap into God’s blessings for your life by doing things satan’s way. Wearing armor would have done nothing to make David more victorious. In fact, if he had done that, if he had worn the armor, I doubt the story would have ever survived the thousands of years that it did. No, David didn’t need the strength and power of this world for as long as he trusted in his God.
And as Christians, we must live the same way. We must trust in our God and live the life He wants us to live. We must stop envying our political opponents. Otherwise we are only Christian in name and nothing more.