Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I'm as Good as You

(Note: I am going through the descriptions of love given in 1 Corinthians 13. I have previously dealt with patience and kindness under my treatment of the fruit of the spirit.)

Love does not envy. It does not try to keep up with the Joneses. But in many ways our whole culture is built around this impulse. I need to show that I can be as good as or better than the person next door. Something that has been condemned in the past and by Scripture has become an acceptable way of behavior (James 3:14-16; Galatians 5:26; Romans 13:13). How has this come about?

One underlying influence is commercialism.  In order to get us to buy things, we are encouraged to feel we have to have them just because other people have them. An attitude of competition is fostered, and the real winners are the people who get us to buy things we do not need or maybe even want just because our neighbors own them.

Another influence here is a distortion of the idea of democracy. C. S. Lewis in his story Screwtape  Proposes a Toast calls it the spirit of "I'm as good as you." The idea is to say, not that we are all equal in value even if we are different, but that we all are equal and no one should be allowed to be different. This does not result in people trying to excel to be like others, but in pulling others down to their own level. This is a worse form of envy than the competitive kind.

To avoid this we need to realize we are all made in the image of God and are valuable even if we are different (Genesis 1:26,27; 9:6; James 3:9,10). And those who come to Christ become part of His body, and each has their own place and function and is given honor for that, whatever it is (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 2:10). Also, we need to trust God for His provision and to be content with what we have (1 Timothy 6:6-10; Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:19). This does not mean we cannot ask what reasonable steps we might take to improve. But it does we should not make it our goal to keep up with other people. And certainly not to tear them down to our level.

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