Jonathan Edwards on Envy, Part 3
The third section of Jonathan Edwards sermon, Charity Incongruous with an Envious Spirit, focuses on showing “why it is so, that a Christian spirit is thus the opposite of a spirit of envy.” His main point: This idea is strongly enforced by the gospel.
Christ is the ultimate example of a non-envious spirit, and his example is most intense at Calvary. The only one who had every right to be envious chose to humble himself, becoming human flesh and suffering in the place of those who deserved the humiliation. He didn't envy other people who had a home when he had to place to lay his head. He didn't envy the social status of the earthly kings and Pharisees. He didn't envy the rich tax collectors. He didn't envy any of these people whom he had full right to envy because he fully deserved all that they had. Most importantly, Christ didn't envy us, but made a way for us to inherit a part of his kingdom!
Read the following passages from this section of the sermon. I think they're the most important parts of the whole sermon because they communicate the ultimate reason we are not to envy others. Read and learn from Christ's example:
The next time you and I are tempted to envy, the most powerful remedy is remembering that Christ, the one who had every right to envy us, chose not to “be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). Christians, therefore, have no grounds for envy.
The doctrines of the gospel…teach us how far Christ was from begrudging us anything that he could do for or give us. He did not begrudge us…his own precious blood which he shed for us on the cross, nor will he begrudge us a throne of glory with him in the heavens, where we shall live and reign with him forever...And the gospel also teaches how Christ came into the world to...purify our natures from every trace of [envy], that we may be fitted for heaven. How far he was from a spirit of envy! How contented in the low and afflictive circumstances in which he voluntarily placed himself for our sakes! And how far was he from envying those that were of worldly wealth and honor, or coveting their condition!...Christ envied not.
Love to God will dispose us to follow his example, in that he has not begrudged us our manifold blessings, but has rejoiced in our enjoyment; and it will dispose us to imitate the example of Christ in not begrudging his life for our sakes.