Greetings again my friends and readers!
We’ve seen in my previous posts why it is important to understand all we can about Christian love. We’ve also had a look at what Paul wrote concerning love, that “Love suffereth long, and is kind.” We believe that the next part of Paul’s exposition enlarges on that thought by contrasting patience and kindness with what follows so we may understand how love acts through avoiding certain conduct. The list is by no mean comprehensive, but serves as a guide for us:
“love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” (1Co 13:4)
Are we jealous of other’s success? That is the thought behind the Greek word ζελεοω (G2206). It is same word from which we get the English word, zeal, so it is distinguished from simple envy by a matter of grade. The world today is captivated by the concept of equality of outcome, not opportunity. People are taught through various ways to resent those who are successful and politicians are playing on that resentment with promises to impose an equal outcome through what is called income redistribution. That is an extreme form of what we’re talking about, but it illustrates it in a way we all see in daily life.
Envy is a natural emotion because of the flesh’s fallen nature. But it is an emotion we should cut-off every time it rears its ugly head because it leads to full-blown resentment, or misplaced zeal, motivating one’s heart. So do we hold onto and nurse envy to the point of resentment when passed over for a promotion in favor of another who clearly does not qualify as well as us, or do we nurse a resentment when another gets a position in a Church or Ecclesia, or Congregation ahead of us? Are we jealous, another nuance of the Greek word, at the success of neighbors, family, or even friends?
While envy may be something we might have and keep to ourselves resentment tends to predispose us to act on that envy. This is often the basis for many contentions in Churches. One may resent even the spiritual progress of a brother or sister and that resentment may motivate one to spread gossip or in other was act to harm the object of our resentment. So resentment is something to avoid like the plague. True αγαπη love for our family, neighbors and fellow workers and brethren helps us to avoid acting out on envy because it “envieth not.” It is proactive itself and doesn’t allow resentment to take root.
I’m sure we all know somebody who loves to toot their horn and brag about accomplishments either real or imagined. That is an example of what the Greek word for the next anti-quality to love, “love vaunteth not itself,” means. If we have real love in the Christian way it is enough that we have the little bit of pride which come from accomplishment and no more (Rom. 12:3). We think that a widely misunderstood verse because it is often used to teach that all pride is wrong. But that’s not what it says. It acknowledges that some pride in one’s accomplishments is proper in a Godly way. However, too much pride is inappropriate. That is why we find that those of the Church who are mature are genuinely humble, that is they don’t toot their horns.
The next anti-quality is related to the last as both involve too much pride. In fact the word, which means “to puff up” (G5448) is believed to be used in this place to mean one who is overly proud. We’ve all seen folks like that. They are kind of like a rooster getting ready to crow. The rooster outs his feathers out, as if inflating himself up to a greater size. Then he crows. So preening oneself with pride may lead to the preceding sinful conduct, boasting.
It helps to remember what we’re being called for. We’re being called to be “Kings and priests” who are going to sit in judgment of our fellow men (Rev. 20:4-6). So we need to keep in mind the sort of men God seeks for such roles. Of Moses it was said that he was the humblest of all men on the face of the earth at that time (Num. 12:3). The judges were generally humble people. David started out as a humble shepherd boy and though he had a few faux pas he remained humble and did his best to follow God’s directions. And we could go on, ending up with Jesus’ disciples. We want to fill our place in God’s plan, so humility is a trait we want to cultivate, and is an evidence of having True Christian love.
So now we’ve seen that in a word love is not overly proud, that the meek and humble are what God is looking for to be a part of his plan. Unselfish love is just that, humble, and helps us not to have too big an opinion of ourselves and act rudely toward others. That is what we’ll get more into with our next post.