NOT Proud: Love Marker 4

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NOT Proud: This is love marker 4 in our Summer Love series!

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, these love markers describe true love in the Church and also between spouses. Read “Patience: Love Marker 1” and “Kindness: Love Marker 2” and NOT Jealous: Love Marker 3.

Do you want to grow in your marriage? Enjoy these blog posts by guest author Pastor Matthew Black of Living Hope Church in suburban Chicago. Pastor Matt kindly let us excerpt sections of a chapter in his forthcoming book The Marriage Enrichment Book. –Ed.

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Love Is Not a Windbag!

Love is not proud or boastful. The word for boastful could be translated to “be a wind-bag” or to “parade oneself” through your words.

I kind of think of the Macy’s day parade. A braggart is like one of those gigantic inflated balloons. Sometimes you and I inflate our own worth with boastful words. What windbags we can be.

Sometimes, we confuse spiritual growth with spiritual pride. There are those Christians who think they are the standard, and they boast.

There are Christian husbands or wives who make themselves wind-bags, especially when an argument comes.

Let me give you an example of how I can be a wind-bag to my wife. I have mistakenly believed that knowing or quoting the Bible is automatically godly. In a heated conversation with my wife, I am sadly very good at giving my sweet wife “50 reasons from the Bible why I’m right” speech – complete with telling her that she needs to submit and follow me.

Imagine how surprised I was to discover that this kind of reasoning is “temporal, sense-oriented and demonic” (James 3:15). My mouth might have been quoting the Bible, but my heart was twisting it with my own selfish ambition, and “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16).

Have you ever been in a difficult discussion with your spouse, and you began to paint yourself as the most spiritual person on the planet? You say things like: “I would never do that!” That is not love. That is the boasting of a wind-bag kind of person.

Love Is Not Arrogant

Boasting comes from an attitude of superiority over others; It is usually combined with a feeling of contempt or disregard for another. This is why Paul continues and says, “love is not arrogant.”

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).

This word translated “arrogant” means to inflate, blow or puff up. It speaks of someone who has a “big head.” Love doesn’t get its head swelled; instead it focuses on the needs of others.

Christ is the perfect display of love, and He displayed humility and not arrogance. Love is not proud because Christ is not proud. To be like Christ in His love, means you have a very low view of yourself.

Don’t be mistaken. Humility is not putting yourself down.

Writes Timothy Keller in Freedom of Self Forgetfulness:

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity makes a brilliant observation about gospel-humility at the very end of his chapter on pride. If we were to meet a truly humble person, Lewis says, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble. They would not be always telling us they were a nobody (because a person who keeps saying they are a nobody is actually a self-obsessed person).

The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less. Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with myself. It is an end to thoughts such as, ‘I’m in this room with these people, does that make me look good? Do I want to be here?’

True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness. The blessed rest that only self-forgetfulness brings.

What Makes You Special?

Everything you have is a gift, so why would any of God’s children boast in self?

Paul reminds us:

None of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Cor 4:6-7).

Let’s not have an inflated view of our gifts or usefulness to our marriage or to the Body of Christ. Any gift or position is from God, so we should not take glory for ourselves, but give glory to God!

Take a moment and give thanks to God for your spouse. The gifts, position, and personality of your spouse are God’s special gift to you.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17).

This giving of gifts extends to your family. If your spouse is saved, he or she is a gift from Christ not only to His church but also to you.

Remember this the next time you have a disagreement with your spouse and you want to act proud. Demonstrate the humility of Gospel love to your spouse.

How to Stop Being Proud

Here are some actions to take.

  1. Ask God to illuminate your heart so you can see the fruits of pride in your life.
  2. Ask your family or close friends to point out the fruits of pride in your life.
  3. Ask God to convict you. Pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24).
  4. Confess your pride to God point by point.
  5. Don’t ask God to humble you. The Scripture says to humble yourself (1 Peter 5:6). Humility isn’t an emotion; it’s a decision of the will to think and act differently.
  6. Confess your sins of pride to those you have affected. They can help bring the on-going encouragement and correction you will need.
  7. Ask God to give you a holy hatred for pride and its fruits in your life.
  8. Ask God to give you a love for anonymity. Encourage and serve others each and every day. Associate with the lowly. Think much about God and little about yourself. Regularly study the goodness and greatness of God.
  9. Be impressed with God not with yourself. Live to promote the reputation of God and not your own. Find your satisfaction in him and not in your vain accomplishments

Remember your war against pride is life-long. It is not a battle won in a day. As you faithfully put pride to death and put on humility, you will experience greater freedom and more importantly greater conformity to image and likeness of Christ. In so doing, God will be glorified in your life!

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