“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other”
First provoking and envying is a summary of all the things that go wrong in relationships. The word provoking means to challenge, irritate. The Greek word Prokaleo means to call out or to challenge somebody, to look down on somebody, to be sure of, superiority, to lord it over someone. The word envy means to be looking up and be mad about it, to covet, to be jealous.
What you have here is the superiority complex and the inferiority complex. When we feel inferior, people who are so nice, so smart, so gifted, so talented, we envy them, we hate them, we resent them, and we think — “Who do they think they are!”, “I don’t like people like that." On the other side which is looking down on people, feeling superior to people, we think, “Why are people like that around?”, “Why do I have to deal with people like this”. People you feel superior to and people you feel inferior to.
The reason for the superiority and inferiority complex, the reason for all the ways relationships fall apart is in the word “conceited”. The KJV reads “Desirous of vain glory”. What is that? Vain glory is a very literal rendering of the Greek word, kenodoxa which means empty of glory, a glory vacuum. Keno from the word empty and doxa from the word glory. We get the word doxology from doxa or giving glory to God. This word kenodoxa denotes a person who is void of real worth but wants to be admired by others. This is self-assuming arrogant boasting, being a windbag. Someone who wants to appear more than he is, more important than he is. This is a "know-it-all-attitude".
Deep inside of us we have a problem, we know we don’t count or matter. The word doxa, glory, means importance, praise and honor, it literally means weight. Something either matter's (is it material which has to do with weight) or it doesn’t matter. There is a problem in all of us, that we know we don’t matter, we don’t count. We don’t have honor, we don’t worth, we don’t have glory. The word kenodoxa means deep down inside we know we’re nobody. We are desperately trying to prove to everyone around us that we are somebody. That’s why the word is translated vain glory or conceit. Somebody who is desperately trying to prove something that they know isn’t true. That’s what a conceited person is. We feel like we don’t matter.
Our relationships go bad in this way. We are desperately trying to feel better about ourselves than other people. So when we get into relationships we have to decide, am I better than you or worse than you? This is why we don’t have friends. Almost nobody is just like us. Almost everybody is ahead of us or below us on the scale. We’ve all chosen some way we’re going to get ourselves some glory, some worth, get ourselves a sense that I count, I matter. The only way you can get the glory or worth you need is through the gospel. This is what Jesus did for you not what you have to do to earn it.