This morning, we continue our message series helping us to better understand and live out unconditional love.
This series is entitled, “Love Is” and it is based on that familiar passage found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
We were created by God with the need for love that can only be expressed through relationships.
As there are different types of relationships, there are different types of love. There is, however, a type of love that we are to express toward anyone and everyone. In fact, the Bible teaches that if we learn how to express this type of love toward God and others, that we will entirely fulfill all that God’s law requires of us.
This distinct type of love is the love that God has for us. In the Greek language, it is the word agape. It is this type of unconditional love that we’ll be covering through this message series.
To be able to possess and express this unconditional love, we’re going to break it down into parts as Paul chose to do in his letter to the Corinthians. He taught all about spiritual gifts and said that it is not using these gifts that truly matters, but how we choose to use them, our motive, that matters to God. We can do all sorts of good things for God, but if we do not do them as an expression of God’s love, then they are pointless, useless, and meaningless.
1 Corinthians 13:1-4
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 14 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Love is not boastful or proud.
Most of us have encountered this type of person before. You know, the loudmouth who always has to one-up everyone. If your kid earned a 3.98 GPA this semester, his kids all earned 4.0’s. If you worked 50 hours last week, he worked 65. If your mother was just diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, his was just diagnosed with stage 4.
Let’s be honest, when we’re around them, we don’t necessarily feel loved. In fact, love isn’t the word at all that we would use to describe even being around them!
It’s one thing to be proud in a sense of having proper self-respect. It’s OK to be proud of a job well done or of a hard-earned reward. This is not the type of pride that love is not. In fact, love is very proud in this sense.
The type of pride that we are referring to is the type of pride that puffs oneself up and thinks more highly of themselves than they ought to.
It is the type of pride revealed in a person who cannot learn from anyone because they already know everything there is to know about everything. The person who is never wrong and if they are, well, it was because of something or someone other than themselves.
It’s the person who thinks that they are better than others and that no one can do as good of a job as they can. The person who consistently looks down on others, or only helps them in order to prove that they are somehow better. It’s the type of person who always feels that they are more valuable than others.
Love is not proud.
The Bible has much to say about this type of pride and not any of it is good. Here are just a few examples:
…“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
1 John 2:16
For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
1 Corinthians 8:1b
…We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
Pride was what caused Satan to change from the guardian cherub and the most beautiful in all of God’s creation ordained by Him to becoming the enemy of God thinking that he was somehow equal to God.
Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
Every single one of us are prone to this negative type of pride. All of us have a tendency think more highly of ourselves than we ought to at times. The most significant difference between healthy pride and unhealthy pride brings us to the very point of how love is not proud.
Unhealthy pride boasts in our personal strengths and accomplishments. Unhealthy pride looks down on others. Unhealthy pride is selfish and is interested in using or diminishing the success of others. Unhealthy pride is selfish.
Healthy pride honestly reflects our own personal strengths and accomplishments. Healthy pride sees the value in others. Healthy pride expresses love by helping others to also be successful. Healthy pride is selfless.
Love is not proud.
Let’s take a look at an example to help us to remember the difference between healthy and unhealthy pride.
* Balloon Example *
This balloon is who we are when we find Jesus. Empty and wimpy; a life that holds far more potential than it is currently being used for. It anything impressive to look at, really.
Then, we give our lives to Jesus. He fills us with the Holy Spirit transforming us into something awesome. It’s a life that catches people’s attention and even brings joy to others.
If we choose to live our lives this way, well, everything is great. Our lives lead people to Jesus and encourage them to allow Him to transform their lives as well.
If we choose to puff ourselves up even more and begin to boast about how great we are instead of how great God is, well, we can only do that for so long before the inevitable happens… (blow up balloon until it bursts)
On the other hand, we might give our lives over to Jesus and allow Him to transform our lives. We may choose then not to puff ourselves up any further, but start to look down on others in their weak state. We may begin to condemn people for their sins and how their lives aren’t looking like ours.
God will only allow that to happen for so long before the inevitable happens… (pop balloon with knife)
1 Corinthians 8:1b
…knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
We want to live lives that love well. Love builds others up without puffing up our own selves in pride. Through Jesus, we don’t need to put others down in order to be lifted up. In fact, when we all join together, like a large bunch of balloons, we naturally lift one another up without anyone being put down. We are even better together!
Be warned, however. Unhealthy pride can easily seep into our lives without us even noticing it. There are many examples of this found throughout the Bible recorded as warnings for us. One of the most simplistic examples is found as Jesus took note of an unhealthy pride that is often found seeping into the life of a Christian.
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Love is not proud.
Christianity is all about denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Jesus. It is about us decreasing and Jesus increasing in and through us. It is about following the example of Jesus and laying down our lives for the benefit of others.
Nothing solves the issue of pride in our hearts faster than the reality check of what we deserve compared to what we’ve been freely given.
We were all sinners headed straight to hell and well deserving of it. Out of His great love for us, Jesus wrapped Himself in flesh and lived a sinless life that none of us every could. He overcame every temptation that we face and then willingly died on the cross paying the penalty for our sin. He then defeated death, rose again to life, and chose to freely give us that life that He alone earned. He freely sent the gift of the Holy Spirit to transform us into new creations from the inside out.
In reality, what we are is all a product of God working in us and nothing of our own. Whatever good exists in our lives, it is all a gift of God and the result of how awesome He is; not anything of our own. Even the accomplishments that we can have a healthy pride about ultimately were accomplished using the free gifts that God has given us.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Love is not proud and this scripture reminds us of our last point.
Love is not boastful.
We have to begin with getting our hearts right with the issue of pride. Honestly, boasting is usually solved right there. After all, if I’m not thinking too highly of myself, I won’t have a tendency to excessively talk pridefully about myself. As Jesus taught us:
Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45
… the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
If my humble heart is full of gratitude for what God has done for me, then my mouth is going to be full of boasts in the Lord. If my heart is full of pride about who I am and what I have accomplished and how great I am, then my mouth is going to be full of boasts about myself. A changed heart leads to changed speech.
If we’re going to speak, let’s be ones who boast in the Lord and His greatness. If we are going to speak, let our words be ones of encouragement. Let our words be ones that bring life and hope that lift the spirits of others.
Love is not boastful or proud.