Love is Not Rude or Self-Seeking- Abide in My Love Series

loveisnotrudeWhat does it mean to say “Love is not rude”? For us, in today’s culture to be rude is to be offensive, impolite or ill-mannered.  In the KJV of the Bible it is defined as behaving “unseemly” or “unbecomingly”.  The definition for “unbecomingly” is – inappropriate behavior, especially not behaving according to the standards appropriate to one’s position or condition of life.

What is our position? As believer’s we are children of God.  What is our condition of life? We are ransomed and have the promise of eternal life.  So in the context of this verse, I will be bold enough to say, “love does not act unchristlike” (not becoming to or like a Christian).  So then we may say, “Love is acting like a follower of Christ”.

As we have seen in the previous verses and I have discussed in previous posts, Christ’s love is patient, kind, content and humble. The next part of verse 5 gives us even more insight to the love of Christ.  It is sacrificial.

“Love is not rude, it does not insist on its own way.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, ESV)

If we are not insisting that things are done our way then we are making a sacrifice of self and intentionally putting others needs before our own.  I don’t know about you, but I can tell you that this is one of the hardest things I am called to do as a Christian.  We are hard wired to be selfish.  Some of it is instinct, most of it is our sinful hearts.  I continually get tangled in the web of my own thoughts and desires. And there lies the danger of sin.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15, ESV)

So how do we fight these desires to please ourselves? By receiving grace from Christ and paying that grace forward to others in love.  And here is an amazing thing about practicing grace, from it comes an abundance of joy and thankfulness, that puts our hearts in a state of self-forgetfulness and springs us into service.

When we understand that we didn’t deserve to be saved by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we can look upon those who we may think don’t deserve our love and be able to pour it forth abundantly without holding back or expecting anything in return.

A beautiful example of this was seen in the early church just after Christ’s resurrection.  They were believing and being baptized by thousands in a single day.

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:41-47, ESV)

And again in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul is describing the generosity of those among the churches of Macedonia.  Even though they were severely afflicted and poor, they understood the grace of God and had an “abundance of joy” that “overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Corinthians 8:2). And this generosity stemmed from grateful hearts for the grace they had received in Christ.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

As you go through the day, turn your eyes upon Jesus and remember the free gift of salvation you have.  It will produce great joy in your heart and give you strength to love others as Christ loves you. Not behaving unbecomingly, but as a servant of God. Not insisting in your own way, but generously sacrificing your own self-worth and becoming rich in the righteousness and love of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Questions to ask ourselves:

1. Have you behaved in an unchristlike manner recently? How can you repent and right that wrong? Do you need to ask for forgiveness? Remember to be honest about your sin and not try to justify your behavior in selfishness.

2.  What is an area of your life where you constantly insist on your own way? Is it as simple of a thing as having the dishwasher loaded a certain way or something as damaging as overriding your husband in things like discipline of the children or finances? Can you let go of some unrealistic expectations and trust fully in God?

Love is not Proud- Abide in My Love Series

pride

On those sweet mornings when I can actually be up for an hour or two before the kids wake up, I enjoy the solitude and spend some extra time in prayer.  I am usually sitting in my comfy recliner all covered up with a cozy blanket and warm drink by my side and my Bible, journal, or prayer notebook in my lap. But this past week, it felt wrong.  I was drawn on several occasions to my knees in prayer and the transformation in my heart and attitude was powerful!  I mean seriously on my knees,  face down on the couch cushion or bedside drenching it in tears and humbled before my God.  It was out of conviction that I found myself there.  As I was reading verse after verse about pride, arrogance, and conceit I saw how my own pride had been keeping me submerged in myself.  I did not have a humble servant’s heart, but instead was living in my own thoughts and wants.

We all have the sin of pride in varying degrees. As it has been said, “Pride is the root of all sin”.  Different translations of the Bible say in this verse that love is not “proud, arrogant, conceited or puffed up.”  Do any of those adjectives describe a person you would say is loving?  Maybe loving themselves.  In fact, they are so consumed with self and possessions, there is no room for love of others.  And this is exactly why pride is so detrimental to love.  It puts self first and its priorities are on the things of this world.

Pride is competitive in nature and makes a person try and lift himself above others. This will never produce harmony or unity, but only conflict and division. It builds up walls and barriers and leaves no room for humble service.  It is in direct opposition of Jesus’ call to “love one another”.

If you do a word study of “pride, proud or arrogance” in the Bible, you will not have to read very many references to see what an abomination the Lord considers pride to be. Here is a quick sampling of verses.

Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. (Psalm 101:5)

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)

“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride. (Proverbs 21:24)

Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. (Psalm 31:18)

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)

Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. (Proverbs 21:4)

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

These are the verses that brought me to my knees in tears.  I confess I was proud.  You see, I was exalting myself and wanting the glory.  I was more eager to get what I wanted than to die to myself and serve my family with love.  I was serving, but not always without complaining.

Then after the confession, I turned to scripture again. I was seeking Him. My heart was humbled and the Lord alone did that.

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. (Isaiah 2:11, repeated again in vs. 17)

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:37)

When we are proud, we are scattered in our own thoughts.  In Mary’s Song she says “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:51-52). But humility gets us out of our own heads and sets our sights on God.  Only then can love pour forth to others, out from our hearts full of thankfulness.  Loving one another requires a humble servant’s heart.  Jesus showed us exactly what that looks like.

In Philippians 2, Paul is instructing the Church to serve one another in love.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4) 

In Christ Jesus we have a perfect example of a humble servant.  Jesus was not proud or boastful, although he had every right to be. He had a willingness to deprive himself of his exalted status.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

In the footnotes of my NIV Bible it says he did not count equality with God a thing to be “asserted”.  He could have used it to his own advantage, but chose not to. His humility was a process of emptying himself, taking and being found in human form and dying.

And in direct response to His obedience, the Father restored him to His glorious heavenly status that he always had from the beginning, but willingly relinquished for a time.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

His humiliation led to his exaltation. And so it must be for us.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:1-3)

I can keep my eyes on Jesus and by his grace and grace alone, love and serve others for their good.  For God “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). And out of humility, I can consider others more significant than myself.  “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way” (Psalm25:9).   But my reward will be great in heaven, “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

Are you humbly serving others in love, or are you putting yourself first? Consider the cross and see the grace Jesus has given us. Though we may be unappreciated, taken for granted or even persecuted in our service here on earth, we have a Savior that deserved even more and suffered to the point of death, because he cared for us.

 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

 

Love Does Not Envy or Boast- Abide in My Love Series

boast

Love does not envy or boast. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Envy: discontentment and resentful longing aroused by someone else’s achievements, possessions, or abilities.

Boast: to talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s own achievements, possessions, or abilities.

I look at these two definitions and I am reminded of the age old “which comes first: egg or chicken” debate.  Does the boaster make it easier for the other to fall into envy? Does the attention of those who envy make the boaster boast even more? But if you look right past that, you will see that both vices are fueled by a focus on self and possession.  They have taken their eyes off of God  and love the things of this world.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

And They are “wise in their own eyes” (Proverbs 3:7).

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18)

The love that we are commanded to have toward one another is not of this world.  It is the love of God, merciful and impartial.  Love that would cause a Father to sacrifice his one and only Son so others who believe in him will have eternal life.  Love that would suffer through pain, torture, separation from the Father, and even death to save those who are still sinners.  It is a love that is other concerned.

Loving one another should not drive us to envy, but we should rejoice with others and celebrate their successes with them. Loving God and putting him first in our lives grows a heart of thankfulness and causes us not to boast in ourselves, but give him the glory and the praise.

If we are going to long after something in our hearts, let it be the righteousness of God that comes through faith in Christ.  Let it be love, peace, and joy.  Let it be service to others with a grateful heart.

By not comparing ourselves to others, we can be free to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). With his grace we have the freedom to use our talents and gifts to serve Him. There will be no more room for boasting in ourselves.

For “Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

and “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)

It is sometimes easier for me to understand the “is nots” and “does nots” of this verse it I replace it with what love “is”.

If love does not envy, then love is content.

If love does not boast, then love is humble.

Some questions to ask ourselves today:

1. Is there someone in your life that you are envying? How can you renew your mind to look at them with joy and be content with and thankful for the blessings you have?

2. Is there something in your life that causes you to boast in your own abilities? Take another look and find the ways that you can give God the praise and glory that is due to him.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 34:2-3)