For ye are yet carnal: For whereas there is among you envying and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (I Corinthians 3:3)
[No doubt] [y’all] are [still] [fleshly]: (case in point), you all are indulging in [jealous and envious stirrings and emulations of these base attributes] and [quarrels/wrangling], and [disunity], (can you honestly say you are) not carnal, and that you (don’t) [live] as [regular manfaced worldlings]?
The proof of our fleshliness is thus: We’re all wishing we had each other’s stuff. I would say that most wealth procured is gained not without some amount of sin, so if I am coveting another man’s things , I am coveting also his sin. Coveting, incidentally, does contravene, I mean directly, Commandment #10.
In Greek, envy means ξήλος (zelos), which is defined as “heat,” or, perhaps more fittingly, “jealousy, as of a husband [figuratively of God], or an enemy, malice): – emulation, envy (-ing), fervent mind, indignation, jealousy, zeal.” I like the term “emulation” here, which implies that I am the person I am envying. Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) defines “emulate” as, “to strive to equal or excel, in qualities or actions; to imitate, with a view to equal or excel; to vie with; to rival.” So when I am envying someone, I am wishing I had what they had with an eye on beating them at their own game.
Another way to look at envy comes in Proverbs:
Let not thine heart envy sinners: But be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long. (Proverbs 23:17).
“Let not (that puts the responsibility on us not to allow ourselves to do what God is further commanding here) thine heart (heart is the “center” where feelings, will, or intellect reside) envy (harbor feelings of unease or discontent at the reputation or success of another) sinners (Hebrew: chatta: one accounted guilty): But be thou in the fear of the Lord(fright and holy reverence for the Almighty) all the day long (not for one hour a day, but for the whole day). The fear of God allows me to stay focused on the right things and not veer off into the worldliness of wanting vain things that other people have. How can I envy a worldling; yet still I secretly covet his things! The only good way around this kind of thing is the fear of God….
Now add to this mess the wrangling, the grousing, the disunity within the whole church. Tell me with a straight face that we’re not also living after the flesh just like the First Century Corinthians and conducting our lives as milk-fed worldlings who think they’re spiritual gurus. I know the Christian Church of the 21st century does not have literally thousands of denominations all with their own particular interpretations of Scripture, or as several of the really huge ones have, a co-existing belief in the tradition of the church that equals the authority of Scripture. We don’t have figures like Pope Benedict, who declares that there is no salvation outside of the Roman Catholic Church. Nope. None of that applies!
The fear of God would propose that I look not to any human-made divisions but keep my heart set on the ancient landmarks of God, which He set in place before the foundation of the world. His landmark boils down to the two great commandments of Christ: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind… and love thy neighbor as thyself. (Mt 22: 37, 39). If I am loving God with everything I am and loving my neighbor as well, how can I be stricken with carnality, and envy, and strife, and divisions?
We Christ-lovers have been around for many centuries, but the results of our stewardship of the planet are poor. Many have given up on Christ; many more still have never met him or have been given a poor account of him, or have been misled by heresiarchs. Perhaps the onus is now on the few strong meat Christians that now walk the earth to put aside their quibbling and sanctimonious faultfinding and bring the gospel properly to others, so they can get their Green Card to the kingdom of God stamped and, perhaps, get on a more substantial diet. Optimally, I would like a mixed diet of greens, meat, dairy and water (living water) and I want to become worthy of that diet. I cannot be on the “adult meal plan” if I am still living carnally. Now, “carnal” seems to imply “carnivorous,” but it’s really quite the contrary. It really means straight milk. And then what happens if they’re lactose intolerant?