A study of God’s Love from 1 Corinthians #20- Love is Not Prideful…Arrogant

26 Jan

(1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV)  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Love is not puffed up (phusioutai): prideful, arrogant, conceited; oes not think nor act as though oneself is better or above others. Love is modest and humble and recognizes and honors others.

Love is not inflated with its own importance.  Napoleon always advocated the sanctity of the home and the obligation of public worship-for others.  Of himself he said, “I am not a man like other men.  The laws of morality do not apply to me.”

The really great man never thinks of his own importance.

Carey, who began life as a cobbler, was one of the greatest missionaries and certainly one of the greatest linguists the world has ever seen.  He translated at least parts of the Bible into no fewer than thirty-four Indian languages.  When he came to India, he was regarded with dislike and contempt.  At a dinner party a snob, with the idea of humiliating him, said in a tone that everyone could hear, “I suppose, Mr.  Carey, you once worked as a shoe-maker.”  “No, your lordship,” answered Carey, “not a shoe-maker, only a cobbler.”

He did not even claim to make shoes-only to mend them.  No one likes the “important” person.  Man “dressed in a little brief authority” can be a sorry sight.

Arrogance and boasting are the reverse side of the coin. Jealousy is my sinful response to the prosperity of others. Arrogance and boasting are my sinful response to my own prosperity.

Arrogance (or pride) takes credit for my “success,” as though it were due to my own merit or superior efforts. Boasting is letting other people know about my success in a way that tempts others to be jealous of that success.

These Christians had a problem with boasting:

(1 Corinthians 1:29 NIV)  so that no one may boast before him.

(1 Corinthians 1:31 NIV)  Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

(1 Corinthians 3:21 NIV)  So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours,

The Corinthian believers thought they had arrived at perfection. Paul already had warned them “not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? You are already filled,” he continues sarcastically, “you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and I would indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you” (1 Cor. 4:6-8).

Becoming still more sarcastic, he says, “We [the apostles] 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” (v. 10). A few verses later the apostle is more direct: “Now some of you have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you” (v. 18).

(1 Corinthians 5:6 NIV)  Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?

Paul’s response was very different:

 (1 Corinthians 9:15-16 NIV)  But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. {16} Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

 (1 Corinthians 15:31 NIV)  I die every day–I mean that, brothers–just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Everything good that the Corinthians had came from the Lord, and they therefore had no reason to boast and be arrogant. Yet they were puffed up and conceited about their knowledge of doctrine, their spiritual gifts, and the famous teachers they had had.

They were so jaded in their pride that they even boasted about their carnality, worldliness, idolatry, and immorality, including incest, which was not even practiced by pagans (5:1). They were arrogant rather than repentant; they bragged rather than mourned (v. 2). Love, by contrast, is not arrogant.

The Confession of John the Baptist – John 3:22-36

“After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. {23} And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. {24} For John was not yet cast into prison.

John alone bears witness to Jesus’ early Judean ministry which lasted 8-9 months. In the Synoptics we have no hint of this period which took place between Matthew 4:11 and 12 (cf. Mk 1:13-14; Lk 4:13-14). Jesus came to Jerusalem for the Passover (Jn 2:13, about April) and stayed until four months before harvest (Jn 4:35). During this time Jesus cleansed the temple (Jn 2:13-22), performed many miracles (Jn 2:23; 3:2), and baptized disciples (Jn 3:23). But we have very meager details of his actual words and deeds.

During these days, John’s popularity was falling off as quickly as Jesus’ was growing. That is, in fact, exactly what John desired. But in their fraternal competition, John’s disciples saw this as a real setback. This is the impetus behind our text.

Jesus’ ministry had been in Galilee up to this time. Now He moves into John’s domain. The six disciples of Jesus were with Jesus here…John 4:2 tells us that Jesus did not personally baptize anyone. Have you ever wondered why?  Is it likely that Jesus knew “fan clubs” would develop later if they had been baptized by THE SON OF GOD? We need only look at the church at Corinth (cpt. 1) to see the problem manifested.

When Jesus began to preach He soon overshadowed the ministry of John the Baptist. Yet John spoke of Him as “He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:27).

 “An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. {26} They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan–the one you testified about–well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” {27} To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. {28} You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.”

These are the last recorded words of John the Baptist. They show John’s dignity and Jesus’ superiority. His first statement, “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven,” can apply either to himself or to Jesus. If he means Jesus, he would be saying, “Jesus received his ministry from God, therefore, I am pleased that he has so many disciples.” But if John is talking about himself, he may be saying, “My ministry I received from God. Therefore, I have no right to promote myself or exceed the bound of my purpose.” This makes a lot of sense, especially in the context of vv. 28-30.

John’s picture from verse 29 was a joyous and common one in his day (cf. Jer 7:34; 25:10; 33:11). The friend of the bridegroom would announce his coming, ask for the hand of the bride, and prepare the arrangements for the reception. But his joy was in promoting his friend, not himself. Likewise, John’s joy is in Jesus’ advancement, not in his own. Never were more noble words spoken from a disciple than these of John, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”(vs. 30).

His response incorporates four ideas:

  1. God is in charge, not man (vs. 27).
  2. All work is significant, but only one work is preeminent (vs. 28).
  3. Joy comes from being obedient, not from getting glory (vs. 29).
  4. Humility calls attention to Christ, not self (vs. 30).

It is interesting to note that four of the greatest men in the Bible faced this problem of comparison and competition: Moses (Numbers 11:26-30), John the Baptist, Jesus (Luke 9:46-50), and Paul (Phil.1:15-18). A leader often suffers more from his zealous disciples than from his critics!

The similar response can be seen in Moses as he deals with the competitive spirit that has surfaced in his followers regarding two young, upstart prophets.

Numbers 11:26-29: “However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. {27} A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” {28} Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” {29} But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!”

If the new teacher was winning more followers it was not because he was stealing them from John, because God was giving them to him. John understood that no man could receive more than God gave him.

It would ease life a great deal if more people were prepared to play the subordinate role. So many people look for great things to do; John was not like that. He knew well that God had given him a subordinate task.

It would save us a lot of resentment and heartbreak if we realized that there are certain things which are not for us, and if we accepted with all our hearts and did with all our might the work that God has given us to do.

To do a secondary task for God makes it a great task! Mrs. Browning said, “All service ranks the same with God.”

Jealousy and envy are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Envy begins with empty hands, mourning for what it doesn’t have. Jealousy is not quite the same.

It begins with full hands but is threatened by the loss of its plenty. It is the pain of losing what I have to someone else.

John and Moses certainly knew how to cope with envy and jealousy. So did the psalmist in Psalm 75:6-7: “No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man.  {7} But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.”

“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. {30} He must become greater; I must become less.”

John used a vivid picture which every Jew would recognize, for it was part of the heritage of Jewish thought. He called Jesus the bridegroom and himself the friend of the bridegroom (one of the great pictures of the Old Testament is of Israel as the bride of God and God as the bridegroom of Israel. The New Testament took this image and spoke of the church as the bride of Christ {2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-32}).

The friend of the bridegroom, the “shoshben,” had a unique place at a Jewish wedding. He acted as the liaison between the bride and the bridegroom; he arranged the wedding; he took out the invitations; he presided at the wedding feast. He brought the bride and the bridegroom together.

And he had one special duty: it was his duty to guard the bridal chamber and to let no false lover in. He would open the door only when in the dark he heard the bridegroom’s voice and recognized it.

When he heard his voice he let him in and went away rejoicing, for now his task was completed and the lovers were together.

He did not begrudge the bridegroom the bride. He knew that his only task had been to bring bride and bridegroom together.  And when that task was done he willingly and gladly faded out of the picture.

John the Baptist had the task of bringing Christ and Israel together; to arrange the marriage between Christ the bridegroom and Israel the bride. That task completed he was happy to fade into obscurity for his work was done.

It was not with envy that he said that Jesus must increase and he must decrease—it was with joy. It may be that sometimes we would do well to remember that it is not to ourselves we must try to attach people; it is to Jesus Christ! It is not for ourselves we seek the loyalty of men; it is for him.

“The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. {32} He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. {33} The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. {34} For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.”

Once again, John’s theology of Jesus astounds us (vv. 31-36). Here we have a fully developed understanding of Jesus’ divinity and sonship, as well as obedient faith in response to him.

Like wisdom, love says, “Pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate” (Prov. 8:13).

Other proverbs remind us that “when pride comes, then comes dishonor” (11:2), that “through presumption comes nothing but strife” (13:10), and that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (16:18; cf. 29:23).

Pride and arrogance breed contention, with which the Corinthian church was filled. In such things love has no part. Arrogance is big-headed; love is big-hearted.

Swallow your pride occasionally. It’s nonfattening.    — Tyger, Frank. Men of Integrity, Vol. 3 No. 3 p. 52.

He who takes his rank lightly raises his own dignity.   — Hebrew Proverb, quoted in Men of Integrity, Vol. 3, no. 3, p. 55

In Charles Colson’s book about his experiences during Watergate, he shares one of President Nixon’s problems — he could never admit he was wrong in anything. In fact, Colson said that even when Nixon obviously had a cold — nose running, face red, sneezing, all the symptoms of a cold — he would never admit it.

Some people’s egos are so huge that they have to be either the bride at the wedding or the corpse at the funeral.  They think other people exist only to serve them in some way or another.  Adolf Hitler was like that.  According to Robert Waite, when Hitler was searching for a chauffeur, he interviewed thirty candidates for the job.  He selected the shortest man in the group and kept him as his personal driver for the rest of his life; even though the man required special blocks under the driver’s set so that he could see over the steering wheel.  Hitler used others to make himself appear bigger and better than he really was.  A person consumed with himself never considers spending time raising others up.   — Robert G.C. Waite

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 26, 2023 in 1 Corinthians


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: