Every February I write my Pastor’s Note on the theme of love. Perhaps you have caught on? For my February notes I have been working through the description of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. So far we have taken some time to consider that love is patient, kind, does not envy and, last year, does not boast. This year we pick up with the fifth attribute of love: it is not proud.
Pride is like patience in at least one way; both can be either good or bad. Patience in waiting for a guard to move so you can rob a bank is bad. Patience inwaiting for God to work in your life is good. In the same way, pride can be good or bad. In Proverbs 17:6 we read,
“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”
But in Isaiah 20:5 we read the same Hebrew word for pride with a very different meaning:
“Those who trusted in Cush and boasted [were proud of] in Egypt will be put to shame.”
What distinguishes the value ofthe pride in these two different circumstances is the object of that pride. If you are proud of what God has done in others, for example, you are proud of your parents who have been blessed to see their grandchildren, that is good! However, if the object of your pride is something that is not a response to God’s goodness but rather an alternative to acknowledging him, as is thecase in Isaiah 20 or 1 Corinthians 4:1-7, that is not good.
So what does our text for this month, “love is not proud,” mean? How can we apply this truth in our lives? First let me say that being proud of the ones you love is eminently biblical – see Proverbs 17:6. When those I love are used and blessed by God I am extremely proud of them and am grateful to God. Love does those things and has that kind of pride.
The key to understanding what is meant here by “love is not proud” is to read it in connection with what has come immediately before: “love does not boast.” The ungodly boasting, the one-upmanship, the superiority complexes… all of these ways that we can exalt ourselves over others in supposing that we are wiser, work harder, are more committed, are better than… all of this kind of boasting is absolutely deadly to healthy relationships and is opposite to love. Boasting like this is theresultant symptom of an inner disorder. And that disorder is thekind of pride that is opposite to love. If boasting is what spills out of our mouths and body language, pride is what lurks within and prompts it. If boasting is the fruit, pride is the branch that it grows from
This February, take some time and revisit last year’s devotional on boasting. It is on our website! Commit yourself to resist boasting. But also commit yourself to digging beneath boasting and uncover any areas of unhealthy pride that might foster the growth of boasting. If you somehow manage to stop boasting but never deal with pride, I can only imagine that a great discontent and bitterness will become a wider and deeper reality in your heart. Let’s join one another in being proud of and rejoicing in what the living God is doing in each other’s lives – that we might grow in reflecting the”affections of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:3-8).