Rate yourself, from one (lowest) to ten (highest), on the following statement: “I notice and value the strengths of others, not allowing envy to distort my perceptions.”

This statement is based on Paul’s exhortations in 1 Corinthians 13, where the apostle teaches us about love. One of his insights is that “love does not envy” (or “is not jealous”). How did you rate yourself? Are you being honest with yourself? Would you be willing to ask your closest friend their answer to that question about you?

This statement is also one of twelve areas for group or self-assessment in the Agape Evaluation in Spiritual Gifts Reimagined. (Agape is the Greek word for love.) An individual or small group can evaluate themselves according to the characteristics of love from 1 Corinthians 13.

Every person you know has amazing strengths. God delights in these strengths he placed in each one. But does your mind notice, and does your heart value, those strengths? Having strengths is another way to talk about being spiritually gifted. Paul talks about gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, and then links them to love in his next chapter. The characteristic of love listed as “does not envy” is one of twelve insights about why love and gifts are connected.

You’re in this church, work group, or fellowship group, with an array of God-gifted people, each with their unique kinds of strengths. Love notices, love values, and is thankful for these beautiful and powerful expressions of God’s gracious gifting.

But envy gums up the works, doesn’t it? Maybe you’re preoccupied with feeling poorly about yourself, so you don’t notice your friend’s strengths. Or you diminish their strengths in your mind by focusing on how they’ve (in your perception) had an easier life than you. Or you wish you got the attention they get from using their strengths. Instead of valuing the strengths God placed in them, envy disrupts your appreciation of their gifts.

The high standard for living in a diversely gifted group is love—love that notices and values. Envy or jealousy has no place there, does it? In the Agape Evaluation, each characteristic of love is described as Valuing (in our thoughts and feelings) and then as Nurturing (in our words and actions). We’ve been looking at the Valuing side of “love does not envy.” On the Nurturing side, here’s the statement for you to rate yourself (one to ten) on this love characteristic:

“My affirmations and challenges truly serve the other person. They do not express my own selfish feelings about that person’s strengths or weaknesses.”

Examples:

“You have such an amazing impact on the hurting people you serve! I could never be as effective as you are.” How is this attempt to affirm corrupted by envy? Who is the statement about? Is the speaker joining with God in delight and affirmation of this person’s gifts?

“I’m grateful for your leadership in our group, but you’ll need to grow out of your blind spots to be the right leader for us.” Who is being served in this attempt to give challenge? How may jealousy corrupt the gratitude that is expressed? Is this about loving nurture or about control?

On the nurturing side of love, we use our words and actions to give both affirmations and challenges to our potential-filled friends. This nurture is strategic, because we’ll always have room to keep growing in our areas of strengths. But often our self-preoccupation contaminates the affirmations and challenges we share with others. Envy, comparisons, and ulterior agendas detour us away from truly helping the other person on her journey of growth.

Here’s some positive nurture: “Keep stepping in to mentoring teens! I see wonderful impacts in their lives through your time spent with them!”

1 Corinthians 13 tells us that “love is patient, kind, does not envy,” and several other dos and don’ts of love. Paul puts this list in his letter to teach us how to relate in a diversely gifted group of people. It’s certainly an instance of Scripture revealing our hearts!

How well do you love? Learn about and use the Agape Evaluation on pages 198-206 of Spiritual Gifts Reimagined.


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