1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is not jealous or boastful”
Paul’s painting of love reveals a contrasting picture of both what love is and what it is not. He exposes both the positives of what it is against the negatives of what it’s not. This contrast consists of one pair of positives, patience and kindness, followed by four negative pairs, revealing the eight loveless qualities that stifle true love. These are the killers of love and where they are present love is absent, they are not just opposed to love they are the real enemies of love. The first two
This comes from the Greek word meaning to boil and is used to express any wrong feeling when viewing the good of others. Love is in sharp contrast to jealousy because its focus is not just outward toward others but also rests its eyes on their good. Jealousy fakes real love by being outward in its focus but if we look closer we will see that what it locks its eyes on will always be self. Jealousy always looks at what it doesn’t have and results in a focus of envy and this final resting place of focus is where envy and jealousy reveal their true colors. They look to others but their focus is rooted in self, whenever it looks to others it’s always in the light of what they have that it wants. Jealousy is an emotion that wells up in a feeling of ill will that begrudges others based on the supposed advantages they have over us. Because of jealousy’s focus it will always pit us against others, draining our energy as we compete instead of complete others. True Love however is not in competition with others and frees us to come alongside others and celebrate their gifts over our gaps. The truth is that when you attempt a good work there will be others doing it better and we do not have to be jealous or envious of them we can be grateful for them. Envy is an old world sin that survived the flood as a stowaway in the hearts of sinful man. It was Eve who was envious of God, wanting to know what He knew and Satan used that to seduce her. Her son Cain was envious of his brother Abel’s acceptable sacrifice, it was worship envy that hatched the first murder. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery because of envy, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den because of the jealousy of his fellow officials in Babylon. So how do we guard against this envious jealousy? With love that does not resent the blessings, successes, or well-being of others. Love is generous and we need to fortify ourselves with its loftiness of spirit and its great magnanimity, so we can live in the contentment of who we are, with what we have and where we’re at. It is the generosity of love that allows us to relax into who we are and do our best for the Master as we serve those around us.
This comes from the Greek word meaning vain glory, in Greek literature it is used of a talkative, self-asserting braggart who puts on a show or an outward display. Boastful people are those who live to listen to the sounds of their own praise. Love however is modest, it willingly puts a seal upon the lips and is satisfied to forget all of its accomplishments. What if we lived in a way that whenever we were wrong we admitted it and whenever we were right we would shut up. Paul says that humility is a key in our love relationship and yet, humility is often disparaged today. We have traded in modesty and replaced it with boasting in an attempt to meet our ever increasing need to feel good about ourselves. We crave being noticed in our attention deficit society, and in an attempt to fill the void created by our relationally empty world we hold up our temporal accomplishments saying “look at me”. Boasting is an attempt to cater to self-need which consumes its focus down to one, breeding a narrowed and limited concern. Politicians brag about what they have done, trying to assure us that if we would vote for them that they could and would accomplish even more. Advertisers encourage us with the simple message “you deserve the best today. So go ahead and get it.” We are not a modest people but a mob of one crying out in our empty existence “Look at ME”. Lasting satisfaction in this life does not come from what we can do because our accomplishments always fade into yesterday. When we live for what we do we step onto the endless treadmill of self-effort that requires constant work without really getting anywhere. Why do we boast, it’s for the feel good and so that we can encourage others to feed our feelings of self. But self-esteem that satisfies is not a product of boasting but of love. It starts with Jesus’ love for us, a love so amazing that He died for us and has forgiven us and now calls us His kids. I’m somebody not because I say that I am but because the Creator of the universe says that I am. You will never out brag you’re Father and it’s because of a deep relationship with Him based on desperation that we are filled and the need for boasting dies. We begin to become like Jesus who did His deeds of love for the glory of His heavenly Father and not for self and the eyes of ears of men.
Our bodies are made out of the dust and one of these days these bodies that we pampered and admire will return to the dust. A hundred years from now, for most of us, no one will even remember our names, our flesh will become the earth that people walk on and the weeds grow over. Mortality helps to keep our accomplishments in check but while we are living we must remember our own fallibility. We make mistakes and decisions that are wrong, we say things that are stupid and we do embarrassing things. If we are honest and take a realistic look in the mirror we will see that when it comes to us there really isn’t that much to boast about. Compared to Jesus what world stopping life changing thing have we really accomplished? He came He conquered, He did it all and He said look at my Father. Who are you bragging about, your feeble failures or your Father? Few things are more noticeable to a watching world than those who keep the focus on their Father and are gracious not only in defeat but also in victory.