Love does not Brag and is not Arrogant
Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:6-7, 13:4-8a; 3 John 9-11
There were four people on a plane: a kid, a pastor, a doctor, and the smartest man in the world. Suddenly, the pilot came running to the back and yelled “The plane is going down and we only have 4 parachutes but 5 people.” With this, the pilot took a parachute and jumped out of the plane”. The doctor said, “I save lives every day and the world needs me” and he also took a parachute and jumped out.” The smartest man in the world said “My research might save millions. The world needs my brain” and he also took a parachute and jumped. The pastor and the kid looked at each other and the pastor said, “I’m old now, I’ve lived a long and enjoyable life, you take the last parachute”. To which the boy responded, “Don’t worry, there’s still two parachutes left. The smartest man in the world just jumped with my backpack!” Pride is problematic and exercises a destructive influence on all our relationships.
“Love does not brag and is not arrogant” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NASB). The two selfish vices referred to here are both rooted in sinful pride. The Phillips translation expresses the phrase this way: “This love of which I speak…is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.” To brag is to pridefully boast of one’s own achievements, with a view to impressing others. To be arrogant is to hold to an elevated view of oneself.
Some in Corinth were engaged in these destructive vices, boasting of their superior wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinthians 3:18, 14:2) or bragging of their purported elevated spirituality (1 Corinthians 14:37). Paul chided them for their arrogance (1 Corinthians 5:2). As Phil Ryken has noted, it is impossible “to love and boast at the same time.” That’s because such prideful behavior is by nature focused on self, and love focuses not on self, but others. C. S. Lewis called bragging the “utmost evil.” It is the epitome of pride, which is the root sin of all sins. Sinful pride puts self first. Everyone else, including God Himself, must be deemed to be less important. It is impossible to tout oneself, without putting others down.
We live in a day in which pride is celebrated and humility is disdained, but that’s not the way God views things (2 Timothy 3:2; Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Humility is not native to us. We came into this world as sin rebels touting our own independence and grasping for self-generated proofs as to our own importance. It was only when the Spirit worked to convict us of our sins and open our blinded eyes to the glory of Jesus that we came to our senses. But the Spirit’s work in our hearts was just beginning. He alone is able to cause us to rightly esteem ourselves before God and others according to the measure of God’s holiness and our own sinfulness. To the extent that we are looking to Jesus and walking with Him, we will walk in humility. It is as John Stott has said, “Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”
The call to have the “mind of Christ” is God’s call to us to walk in humility, according to the example of Jesus (Philippians 2:3-8). It is as we “abandon selfish ambition and conceit” that we are able in “humility (to) count others as more significant than (ourselves)” (Philippians 2:3). Having that attitude of mind, we can learn to love like Jesus!
In Pride we Love Self, but in Humility we Learn to Love Like Jesus
Heavenly Father. You alone are deserving of all glory and honor for who You are and all You have done. We’ve nothing to boast about, for all that we are and ever hope to be is all because of Your gracious work in our lives. We came to You as lost sinners, by Your intervention You saved us and have worked to bless our lives in countless ways. Forgive us for our prideful and boastful ways! Thank you for the day when You opened our eyes to the truth, so that we might rightly esteem ourselves before You and others. May the Spirit work mightily within us, renewing our minds through Your Word, that we might more fully adopt the mind of Christ. That we might view others as more significant than ourselves and love them like Jesus. Amen.