I’m wary as I consider writing about each description found in The Impossible Love List. I had no intention of doing so and still have one foot out…but I feel a familiar tug to explore here. So, I’m looking at the list of 15 characteristics, plus a powerful punch line. Seven words describe what love is. Eight describe what it is not.
For the first time I stop to think about why more than half the list tells me what love isn’t. God could have revealed the positive attributes and left me to recognize that anything contrary would be love’s antithesis. But already I see how vital it is that I know specifically what love is not. The 8 anti-love traits all speak to very common core responses in humankind.
Love Is Not Envious –
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.
ENVY – “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.”
We get our first look at envy in Genesis 4. God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s. Cain was furious. God addressed the matter with Cain, warning him about the pitfalls inevitable should he not right his attitude. But Cain remained incensed, (I’m jettisoned back to Romans 1, remembering the slippery slope that ingratitude initiates. See A Path to Imprisonment Pt. 1). So Cain, despite being warned by God that sin was very near to him, took control of his future (idolatry), murdered his brother (immorality), and spent the rest of his life under a curse, modified to preserve his life (imprisonment).
I think as we explore the anti-love list we will see glimpses of this progression throughout. And, to be fair, if envy is another name for dis-contentment, we have to concede that Genesis 3 started the ball rolling. Cain wasn’t there to witness, but doubtless he heard the stories from his mom and dad about the way things “used to be” and why they aren’t that way anymore. It would be very interesting to know how those stories were told.
What is envy, if not the revelation that I doubt the goodness of God? I want something He either gave to someone else or is withholding. It’s a big enough deal to God that it made its way onto the top ten “thou shalt not” list. But as I’ve been reminded, long before there was a list of don’ts, there were lists upon lists of yes’s! God meant for us to enjoy our lives with Him, to enjoy the context in which He placed us….. with Him. He intended for us to be people fulfilled, satisfied, experiencing the bounty that life can bring with Him. His limited restrictions were in fact safeguards to protect us and the life He set before us.
Do you wonder why, right from the beginning, we doubted His goodness? Do you wonder why only one “no” would cause us to call into question His trustworthiness? A couple of days ago I was reading Mike Patz’s latest blog titled, Envy is Idiotic. He says, “It’s not that we’re not satisfied. It’s that we’re not satisfiable.” That resonates with me. What is the insatiable thing in humanity’s core that refuses to be content…. even with Eden!? God gives me a huge gift by warning me about the tendency that lies within every human. He is benevolently calling me to higher ground to save me…. from myself. I believe that call is His voice of mercy in my ear.
Envy is the spark that ignites the wild-fire of self-destruction. What am I envious of? What are the things, situations or people triggering that switch in my gut, causing me to feel regret for what I don’t have? The door by which Envy enters is ingratitude. Better than telling myself to stop being envious, I ought to recite what I have….. most of which I haven’t earned and likely don’t deserve. Recite it over and over as need be. Write it down…. anywhere…. everywhere if necessary, so it CANNOT be forgotten.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. While I have so VERY much to be grateful for, it seems I’m always being offered ingratitude. Among other things, “Black Friday” looms, having fixed itself upon an arguably sacred day; one day set aside to remember what we have and from whom it came. I recognize that “black” reflects profit vs. loss, but for me, it is simply a dark invitation to consume. The paradox is pretty stunning. Our entire culture is banking on my unrest and greed. But I do not have to bite. Neither do you. My life is about God……not about me. A mind fixed on Him will have no trouble letting praise abound toward Heaven.
The one who offers thanksgiving
as his sacrifice