Pastor Larry L. Harris’ “Love Deflates Boasting and Arrogance,” 1 Corinthians 13:4

1 Corinthians 13:4–5 (NKJV) 

4Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 

Love does not Brag about what it does

The text goes on to say Love does not parade itself; it is not puffed up. Even when a loving person has been blessed he doesn’t go around boasting about it. Another way to word used for boasting is bragging––and bragging is the other side of envy. Envy wants what someone else has. Bragging is trying to make others envious of what you have. Envy pulls others down while bragging raises you up above everyone else. 

In my previous post (The Haves and the Have Not’s), I mentioned the Corinthian Church were show-offs––they were always jockeying for public attention. They jostled for the most prestigious positions, and they pursued the most glamorous gifts. Just take a look at their church service––they were jumping up talking at once, trying to get the attention of everyone else. Here’s a scathing rebuke by the Apostle Paul:

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” (1 Corinthians 14:26, NKJV) 

Everyone was doing his or her own thing and they disregarded whatever others were doing, including the leadership of the church. Very likely, they came when they were on the program, and they left when they weren’t. They gave when it was their ministry day, and they didn’t give when it was someone else’s day. The members of this church didn’t give a hoot about anybody except him or herself.  Wow––this looks like a description of some of “today’s churches!” You see, bragging puts you first and everyone else including God gets second place. It lifts you up only at the expense of keeping everyone else down!

Love does not Brag about who it is

Finally, this verse says, Love is not puffed up. That is, love is not arrogant––it is not full of pride. Many in the Corinthian Church had this issue. They thought they had arrived since they had the best preachers, best choirs, most property, and most distinguished persons in the community as members of their church. Again, Paul warned them: 

so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:6–8, NASB95) 

He sarcastically adds, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.” (1 Corinthians 4:10, NASB95) 

This church forgot that every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above––all gifts come from God! Thus, they had no reason to boast and be arrogant––their pride was so jaded they even boasted about their worldliness and immorality. 

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.” (1 Corinthians 5:1–2, NASB95) 

Like them, we must not be puffed up and conceited as though we can be, and do whatever we want to do! We must be careful in thinking we can go wherever we want to go…say whatever we want to say! Maybe you remember the old adage, “There is nothing new under the sun,” but there was a day church-folk were at least a little more cautious. Today, we too often “let it all hang out” as though we don’t care who sees us, including God! 

Also, arrogance will get you in trouble, and have you saying things you wish you hadn’t. When Jesus’ ministry began to overshadow John the Baptist’s ministry, John’s disciples became envious of Jesus’ popularity, and John rebuked them saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). No doubt, John recognized his role in the kingdom of God and he displayed his confidence in what God called him to do without grasping for more attention.

Additionally, the proverbs remind us, “when pride comes…then comes dishonor” (Proverbs 11:2)––and  “pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18). I’m reminded of the biblical narrative recorded in Acts 12, when Herod Agrippa was delivering a speech, the people proclaimed, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!”(Acts 12:22, NET). The people honored him as a god, but in his arrogance, Herod didn’t give glory to God. Josephus, the well-noted Jewish historian in his Antiquities of the Jews(19.8.2), reported the same event with more detail. Josephus described Herod’s entrance to the festival in which he wore a garment made completely of silver and to his pretentious admirers; he readily accepted their praise only to fall into the judgment of the Lord God. After five days Herod Agrippa died which was described by the gospel-writer Luke , as “he was ate by worms and died”!

Finally, it has been said, “Arrogance is bigheaded but Love is big-hearted!” Although many of us can testify we already know these things, we must also admit we know more than what we live! Brothers and sister, we must put down envy, bragging, and arrogance and replace them with Love! 

Remember…“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8, NKJV) 

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