Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What is Love? Part 3

This week, we continued the “What is Love?” series. In this part we took an in-depth look at the issues of boastfulness and pride as discussed in 1 Corinthians 13:4.  The word boastful or vaunting in Greek is perperuomai and describes one who is full of self-talk, self-promotion, one who exaggerates his own virtues, is full of hot air/windbag and on the border of (and probably crossing the border of) lying – all in order to make others think more highly of them.  You may not think you do this – and maybe you don’t. But I bet you can think of someone (though you shouldn’t, since that is judging). This is because the nuisance of this type of person’s self-promotion is all too memorable.

 Have you ever “juiced up” your testimony because you felt it wasn’t radical enough? Then, what you did was boast (read: lie) to try and help God. He doesn’t need that sort of help. If He has placed someone in your path to share the Gospel with, then stick to the truth. He knows what He’s doing!   

Why do people feel the need to boast? It comes from insecurity and a need to be accepted by man. Sometimes it is rooted in having never felt accepted by a parent or other important figure in life. Regardless, it is something we need to get over because it is NOT love.  If we put too much value in the acceptance of man, we miss the mark in our acceptance before God. Now understand that, by grace, you already ARE accepted before God. You don’t need to work or do works to earn it. Sometimes I think we WANT to earn it. We want to think God must accept us a little more than others because of all the good things we do or bad things we don’t do but that is simply not the case.

 Instead, we should seek to be God pleasers as opposed to man pleasers. In John 12:42-43, Jesus talks about those in the Jewish community who, deep inside, did believe in Him, yet were afraid to admit it because they feared rejection by the Pharisees. Allowing man to give you your acceptance is a dangerous place to be. It’s tiring too.  If you are trying to please man, who is flesh, you will always end up having to do what flesh desires (sin) in order to please flesh. You will find yourself eventually having to check your morals at the door to keep someone happy.

Galatians 1:10 says that if we try to serve God while seeking the approval of man, we will always end up marred by compromise.  If we seek to please God, He will never lead us to sin.  Romans 8:8 echoes this and emphasizes that we are spirit and should be led by the Spirit.    Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, and it also says that we must have faith in the fact that HE will reward those who diligently seek Him. We please God by placing more value in His opinion of our lives than the opinions of men. We must believe that, even when it is very hard to do it, if we avoid the temptation to please men, God WILL reward us.

Proverbs 3:3-4 tells us to make our lives about loving others. In doing so we will gain favor in the eyes of God AND man. Now, I understand there will always be haters. But, by and large, if you live a lifestyle of loving others which is what pleases God, you will also end up pleasing most men.

Then we must deal with pride. Pride, or being “puffed up” as the King James version puts it, by definition doesn’t sound much different than boasting. I would say the difference is this: Boasting is usually done out of insecurity. Pride actually believes one’s own boasting. It believes its own hype.  In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul addresses an issue with pride in the church of Corinth. The church leaders had become prideful about their knowledge of the Word. The problem was that in all their pride they seemed to be okay with blatant, unabashed sin in one of their brothers. Their spiritual pride had blinded them from truth.

In chapter 8 and verse 1 he brings the topic to a head by declaring that knowledge “puffs up” while love edifies. Knowledge itself is very good. We need it. But knowledge can also magnify pride – especially when our pride is in our knowledge. It is a trap many Christians fall into. Instead of true knowledge of the Word driving one to love more, it can cause one to instead judge harshly. Love builds others up, not tears them down.

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