“Love is Not Arrogant”
1 Corinthians 13:4
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.4 Part 4 Love is not arrogant
1 Corinthians 13. The topic this morning is the last phrase of verse 4, “love is not arrogant.” When I was in seminary, one of the projects that was assigned was to write down 50 ways in which you are proud. Five zero. I still have that project and I’d like to give you some of them. Keep in mind this was 15 years ago, I was 25 years old. I’m proud when…
I run faster than the other ultimate frisbee players
I jump higher than the other ultimate frisbee players
I sing in church, I rebuke myself when I think, “They must be getting a blessing from my voice.”
I preach, and I think that other preacher boys wished they could preach like me
I get proud when I am asked what grade I earned on an assignment, and I received a good grade
My roommate won’t help as much around the house, I think that I’m doing a better job then he is.
I begin to think that I see no sin in my life, I see pride and unbelief
I think that what I have to say is more important than what others are saying, I interrupt them with the pride of my heart
I resist going to the throne for help
I get up in the morning I fail to give God praise for His life to me
I pray and am full of my own way and will as I seek His guidance
I feel like I am in competition with other men of God
I resist being orderly and neat with my possessions
I resist helping others because I want my time
I help others just to think that I did the righteous thing
I have extra time with the Lord, I think how spiritual I must be
I refuse to fight against sin
I refuse to recognize sin
I fail to pray for people in my life
I refuse to leave my comfort zone spiritually
I am not willing to part with possessions
Someone else tells me something that I need to improve
Someone else gets angry with me without a cause, I defend myself
I try to exalt myself when God is helping to humble me through discouragement
That would be a helpful exercise to do, wouldn’t it? I should maybe do it again, some I think are still the same. Could you write down 50? Or are you too proud, thinking you couldn’t come up with that many? Let’s read again Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians, vv.1-8.
1 Corinthians 13:1–8 1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails…
The Corinthian church needed rebuke, they needed conviction more than comfort. That’s why many of the descriptions of Christian love have a “not” in front of them. Love is not arrogant. Paul could have simply said it positively. What would he have said? That love is… humble but he didn’t write that! Why not? Because he is rebuking them.
There is a time for speaking in positive words and there’s a time for speaking negatively. We could emphasize humility this morning to the neglect of arrogance. But the fact is the passage says that love is not arrogant! To be faithful to the passage would demand great attention to arrogance.
Moreover, are you aware that out of the 613 commandments in the Old Testament, only 248 are positive but 365 are negative. There are 38% more “thou shalt not’s” then “thou shalt’s.”
It’s not of course that humility isn’t necessary! So of course, we’ll discuss humility this morning. And so the big point this morning is that: love is not arrogant, but love humbles self.
So often we think of sin as outward acts. As I long as I tow the line externally, I’m fine. Read my Bible, be nice, sit in a pew, … as long as I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew, and I don’t go with girls who do. … I’m fine!
But as Richard Baxter, the 17th century Puritan, said, “Oh what a constant companion [is pride]! what a tyrannical commander, what a sly and subtle insinuating enemy, is this sin of pride!” “It sets us in pursuit of empty applause.” And I’d add … how subtle does this crafty sin stalk the mind and personality! It leeches onto the mind, creating an atmosphere in our hearts that imperceptibly colours how we live, talk, and respond to others. All without detection.
Pride has a rather nasty ability to conceal itself in the human heart. It cloaks itself so often with self-righteousness and excuses and blameshifting! But to properly love God and others, it must be detected and destroyed!
Love is not arrogant, but love humbles self.
The Description of Arrogance
So what is arrogance?
A. What is Arrogance?
The Greek word for arrogant here literally means “to puff up.” Outside of Corinthians, it only occurs in Colossians 2:18. In that passage Paul is describing false teachers who are inflated by their fleshly mind. Think of that…
The flesh, the sin nature, takes control of the mind and causes it to puff up, to inflate in certain circumstances. For example when selfish goals are met, when influence has been achieved, when praise of self has come, one can be inflated in his heart.
The fact that six out of the seven times this word occurs in the NT, it occurs in these letters to the Corinthians, tells you that they really struggled with it! They were inflated in their hearts!
ILL: When we were sitting at the dinner table Friday night, we were discussing pride knowing I’d be speaking on it. I told my family of the assignment that I had to write about the 50 ways I can prideful. The kids asked me for some of the ways. And I mentioned my ultimate Frisbee experience. They asked about my ability to run, to jump, and so they began to praise me. “Wow Dad, you’re awesome dad,” dear wife charmingly chimes in, “Yeah, he’s great!” And in those moments, I say out loud, “I can feel my heart starting to blow up like a balloon!” What foolishness!
My pride over my former sports days is still right here! Have you ever felt your heart inflating?
But love is not arrogant! It won’t act out that arrogance! Love and pride … the two can’t stand to be in the same heart together!
So what were the Corinthians so arrogant about?
B. What was so arrogant about the Corinthians?
Turn over to 1 Corinthians 4
The Corinthian pride was a cause of division. And pride and arrogance lost its invisibility cloak in the midst of Christian ministry. The Corinthians were so focused on the ministry of man. But God alone is the source of blessing and his servants are accountable to Him. But certain leaders in the Corinthian church were attempting to cultivate praise for themselves. Paul encourages them instead, at the beginning of chapter 4, to seek praise from God.
And then at the end of verse 6 of this chapter, he puts his finger on their problem: It is pride! And so he sarcastically exalts them in verse eight…
1 Corinthians 4:8 You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.
Verse 14 … he’s not trying to shame them, but to admonish them that they would imitate himself, verse 16. And then Paul promises something rather terrifying if you’re the Corinthians … he promises in verse 18 and 19… that he will come to them! But there are some who have become… Here is our word… They have become arrogant thinking that he was not going to come to them. Paul had left after planting the church and discipling people and he was going to come back to them. When he came back, he wanted everything to be decent and in order, like a true church!
But everything was not decent and in order and so in their pride, they believe Paul is not going to come back and admonish them.
ILL: It’s like young children in a home when their parents leave. When the parents are there, everything is in order and the children are in submission. So often times when the parents leave, the children become arrogant and act foolishly and out of order.
Paul was coming back to set it straight! Their arrogance told them they wouldn’t be called into account for their sin.
And their arrogance spilled over into the next chapter in chapter 5. And here their arrogance leads them to tolerate gross sin.
1 Corinthians 5:1–2 1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
Their arrogance prevented them from mourning over their sin … their sin of tolerating this man’s evil!
And so it’s no wonder that when Paul wrote to them his second letter to the Corinthians in 12:19-21 that he was concerned that when he came in he would find strife and jealousy, anger and disputes, as well as arrogance. Dad’s coming home, you better clean up your act!
C. What are the manifestations of arrogance?
Since pride is so difficult to recognize, it is helpful to consider different ways pride can manifest itself in us. A book I have cited Stuart Scott’s manifestations of pride. Really examine yourself, not others, by them. You may be hurt or struggling with someone right now, but try your best to examine yourself on these.
Proud people are complainers. Just like in the wilderness, God’s people complained against Providence and against their national and spiritual leaders, Moses and Aaron, even though they were following the Lord!
Proud people will not be thankful people. Like Hezekiah, after the Lord healed him of his disease, he did not give thanks to the Lord because it says “his heart was proud.” And so God’s wrath came upon the people and then Hezekiah humbled the pride of his heart. Proud people complain and are not thankful. Proud people tend to be critical and are always thinking about the bad in a situation or in others.
They can also be angry people. An angry person can have outbursts of anger or also simply pout. Like the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew 20, they don’t get the pay that they expect it, and so they are angry.
The proud person will look down on other people. The proud person’s way is right and any deviance from his standard is not tolerated. Like at the Pharisee’s house, and a woman who is a notorious sinner comes and weeps upon Jesus’ feet, anointing those feet with perfume. And the Pharisee condemns Jesus for this. Any deviation from his standard is not tolerated.
And of course a proud person will have an inflated view of their own importance and gifts and abilities. They failed to recognize that the good things that they have, they actually received from God.
If you even come close to even accidentally mentioning that they aren’t as gifted as they think they are, a proud person takes offense.
Conversely, a proud person may also be focused on their lack of abilities. They will begin to say to themselves “woe is me” and have an attitude of self-pity… “Oh no, I’m not an eye in the body of Christ. I am not a mouth. Oh woe is me.” This is Eeyore Christian. “Nothing to do and no hope of things getting any better.” If you even come close to even accidentally mentioning their lack, a proud person takes offense.
Proud people can be perfectionistic. They have to be perfect at everything they do for recognition or to feel good about themselves or for some self-serving reason… We should do a good job, but when we do it to make ourselves feel good, that’s pride.
Proud people may talk too much…. And when they do talk they talk a lot about themselves in some way. Proud people have a difficult time coming underneath the authority that God gave them. Whether it’s the government, a husband, their employer, or their spiritual authorities in the church.
Proud people can sometimes be intimidating to others.
Proud people can be consumed with what others are thinking about them. They are constantly trying to gain approval from other people. They are a man pleaser and a man-fearer falling into many traps.
Proud people struggle with even the slightest of criticism. And so they do not listen to even gentle concerns (Proverbs 13:1).
Proud people are not teachable, they are superior in knowledge. No facts can be presented to them that would contradict their viewpoint. Like some of the Corinthians in 1 Co. 8 knew that idols were nothing and so they could eat meat sacrificed to them. But others had a conscience against it. So, …they flaunt their knowledge, and the brother’s conscience is destroyed. Love doesn’t do that! Proud people aren’t teachable.
For proud people, there are some acts of service that are below them. They will lack compassion and be defensive and will not readily admit wrongdoing. They will rarely ask for forgiveness and when they do, they will couch it in prideful terms. They will minimize their sin and maximize others’ sin.
It is difficult to recognize, but these help us to recognize it.
The parasite of pride and arrogance naturally does not want to be detected by its host.
ILL: Pride can be an ever present reality in us to the point that we cannot recognize it. This summer, our family went to the lake. And we were noticing some of the creatures that inhabited Narrow Lake, the lake close to our house. One of the creatures that we noticed we found out was a horsehair worm. Hudson had it on his dresser in a plastic container. A horsehair worm is born on land. But it needs to find water. To get to water, it enters into a crickets body. Once inside its body, it grows and it feeds off of the cricket’s fat storage. Once the worm is an adult, it releases chemicals that causes the cricket to commit suicide by jumping into a body of water. The worm then emerges to make its home in the water.
That’s gross! The cricket could not recognize the fact that the worm was controlling its brain. The worm was an ever present reality in the cricket’s day to day activities.
Although the cricket could not recognize the fact that the worm was controlling it, we can by God’s grace can recognize the pride within and repent of it. Pride is an ever present reality that can inflate our hearts and colour our entire lives. By God’s grace, we can repent of it.
TRANS: We recognize that pride is very damaging.
The Damage of Arrogance
It is a danger for the wealthy.
Pride can be particularly a part of those who are rich and wealthy like ourselves. Deuteronomy 8 talks about how when the people of Israel come into the land of Israel and their flocks multiply and the become rich with silver and gold, the Lord tells them that their hearts may become proud and the result of that is this: they will forget the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt.
And we ourselves can forget the Lord our God and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We can forget the vision that the cross gives to us, telling us of how sinful our sin really is, and we lose dependence on the Lord.
That’s why Paul has to remind Timothy to instruct those who are wealthy not to become conceited and to trust in riches.
Pride is a particular danger for those who are wealthy. They could forget God, even in the midst of religious exercise.
Pride causes embarrassment an destruction
Proverbs 16:18 18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
Pride can be particularly embarrassing. A proverb also says that the proud will be made low. They will at some point be embarrassed by their prideful ways. They think that their way is right and a simple fact tells them otherwise. They will either dig in their heels or they will become embarrassed and flee! But hopefully repent!
And before destruction, is pride. Pride is so much against basic principles of the walking with the Lord. For example the fear of the Lord. And loving God and loving your neighbor. Pride exalts itself and self is standard. Destruction for such a one is vindicated.
TRANS: This is how the Lord thinks of pride. We easily dismiss it as no big deal. That’s terrifying! And so with need direction on this!
The Direction for the Arrogant (Text)
Solomon, James, and Peter each tells us that “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” That is, He actually fights against the proud. And so proud people may feel like they are in battle with someone or something and wherever they turn, there is another fight on their hands. Fighting against this or that.
If anything we discussed this morning describes you, you need to repent. Confess to the Lord and receive His cleansing. Tell Him the specifics, “I was prideful here and there!”
Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
When I first began walking with the Lord, in 2000, I remember always repenting of pride and selfishness. Sometimes, I didn’t even know why, but I knew it was in me.
And so we need humility in order to love. Love is humble!
From another book on marriage … A humble person will trust in God and in his character. He will say with the psalmist, “I believe in your commandments.”
And even in the midst of trial, the humble person will know he has no right to question God and his judgments. They will desire to pray and pray with other believers. They will be moved over God’s grace and goodness to them and be generally thankful to God and thankful for others, though others may sin and make mistakes.
Humble person will not be easily irritated, knowing that they themselves have greatly fallen short. A humble person recognizes that the same stuff that is in him is the same stuff that is in the people of the world. Multiply me 7.5 billion times and you will get the world that we have today. Humble people will be thankful for their giftedness or lack of giftedness and will not exaggerate how great or how bad it really is.
You’ll find humble people listening to others, being slow to speak. You’ll find them asking lots of questions and not talking about themselves. Humble person will talk of others kindly and not running them into the ground.
A humble person will submit themselves to those who are in authority over them, no matter how imperfect those people may be. Like David did not stretch out his hand against the king, even though everyone thought that would be right. The Israelite king was God’s anointed one. Humble people will find the pathway of growth in any kind of criticism.
They will be teachable and repent when confronted with clear evidence of it. Humble people will seek to be an encouragement, no job is too low for them. They will quickly admit when they are wrong and ask for forgiveness and repent, quickly go to someone when there is a significant enough offense committed, but in most cases will allow love to cover that sin.
A humble person will be strict with himself and gracious towards others. They will minimize others’ sins and shortcomings. And they will be open about their need for growth.
And to get over pride or any sin, the method is this: repent and ask for forgiveness regularly for it. Study and memorize and meditate on verses that deal with the sin itself. Study and memorize and meditate on verses that are the opposite of that sin and ask God to give it to you.
Does he not give wisdom generously to those who ask? Of course he does!
And look deeply at our example!
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.4 Part 4 Love is not arrogant
So you will never be able to pull yourself up by her own bootstraps to get over pride! How ironic would that be? Growth in humility takes a dependence on the Lord in His word and looking long at our example in Jesus Christ. Philippians 2 is the quintessential passage on the humility of Christ.
Paul teaches us there that we’re not to do anything from selfishness or empty conceit, pride … But instead with humility of mind were to regard each other as more important than our own selves …. We’re not to look out for our own personal interests only, but were to look out for the interests of others.
And this is the exact attitude was in Christ Jesus. Although He was God, very God in the glories and splendors of heaven above,
To Him all praise is given. And before He came in His incarnation, He was on the glorious throne of His majesty and in unapproachable light. He’s the King of Glory over all the universe!
He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and last… He’s at the threshold of universe awaiting incarnation, to be conceived in the womb of a lowly girl …
He’s not proud even though He is the Almighty … His robe, the train of which fills the temple, He’s girded across his chest with a golden sash, his head and his hair like white wool like snow, His eyes like a flame of fire, His feet like burnished bronze and His voice like the sound of many waters… In His right hand seven stars and out of His mouth comes a sharp two-edged sword… Who’s face is like the sun shining in its strength.
And His throne is lofty and exalted, a throne ablaze with fire, its wheels are like burning fire and there is a river of fire flowing coming out from before that throne.
And to Him has been given all dominion glory and the kingdom… That all the peoples nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.
And in glory, as He’s about to embark on His mission, above him are the Seraphim each having six wings and one Seraph calls out to another Seraph “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called out, and the temple fills with smoke.
The living creatures in heaven give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever and the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
There are many angels around the throne and living creatures and the elders and the number of them are myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them will one day say in unison of this one …
“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord and His saved creatures will fall down and worship.
This is what the Son of God, Christ Jesus left in glory … this magnificence is what He didn’t cling to, nor did He express any selfishness over.
Philippians 2:7 7 but emptied Himself [of self, is the idea], taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
And He came to live lower than the animals…where the foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has not where to lay His head!
“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” God indeed spanned a mighty gulf. Is it much for you to humble yourself? Have the mind of Christ and come down, be humble, you’re not the standard, repent, ask for forgiveness, seek each other out if there is an offense taken, don’t be like the Corinthians and be disunified. Come, be unified!
As Bunyan has it in His Pilgrim’s Progress… Referring to the cross…
Thus far I did come laden with my sin;
Nor could anything ease the grief that I was in,
Till I came here. What a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss?
Must here the burden fall from off my back?
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack?
Blessed cross! Blessed sepulchre! Blessed rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me!
Where then is room for my pride? I lay my hand over my mouth! Let’s bow for prayer.
143 Old Rugged Cross.
Stuart Scott, Exemplary Husband. As referenced by Chris Moles, The Heart of Domestic Abuse. ↑