Jonathan Edwards on Envy, Part 2
Today I'm going to summarize the second section of Jonathan Edwards' sermon, Charity Inconsistent with an Envious Spirit. His main point in the second section was this: A Christian spirit is the opposite of an evious spirit.
Jonathan Edwards begins this section of his sermon with the idea that envy is not allowed, not acceptable, for the Christian. The Bible commands us to love one another, and I Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love does not envy.” So according to the Bible (and Jonothan Edwards), envy is out of the question for a Chrisitan because it’s inconsistent with the charity and love we are commanded to show one another.
Edwards gives 3 subpoints to show what this will look like for Christians:
1. Edwards first points out that "A Christian spirit disallows..the exercise and expressions of [envy]." The manifestations or “expressions” of envy are unbecoming to the believer; manifestations of envy come in the form of gossip, slander, anger, bitterness, etc. The Christian, says Edwards, “sees [these expression of envy] to be a most odious and hateful spirit” and should “be alarmed at [them], and will fight aagainst [them]." A believer will not allow envy to show up in his or her words and actions.
2. Seondly, Edwards points out that "A Christian spirit...tends to mortiy [envy’s] principle and disposition in the heart" In other words, it’s not enough for the Christian to hide the expressions of envy; he or she must mortify the envy in his or her heart “So that...the individual will cease to feel any inclination to be grieved at the prosperity of others.” In addition to no longer greiving at other’s prosperity, mortifying envy will cause one to be content with their own place in life. They will have a “quietness and satisfaction of spirit with regard to the allotments and distributions of stations and possessions which God, in his wise and kind providence, has made to ourselves and others.”
3. Finally, Edwards states that "A Christian spirit...disposes us to rejoice in the prosperity of others." Once we mortify the envy in our hearts so that the prosperity of other’s no longer greives us, we will be able to “rejoice with those who rejoice, [and] weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Having a true Christian spirit of love will enable us to find true happiness, rather than grief, in the prosperity of others.