I encourage you to read 1Corinthians 13:1-8, the foundation for our series. In part one, we talked about the fact that God’s selfless, perfect love has been abundantly poured out in the Christian’s heart by the Holy Ghost (Rom 5:5), and that nothing can ever separate us from that love (Rom 8:35-39). We then turned to 1Cor 13:1-8 to see what this perfect love looks like in action. In part two (IDOP for the Persecuted Church) we went to 1Thess to see that this perfect love can abound in our lives, even in the midst of affliction and tribulation. This week, we will continue our way through 1Cor 13, gathering more evidence of what true love looks like. Let’s get into God’s Word.
1Cor 13:4 says, “Love does not vaunt itself..”. “Vaunteth not itself” means is not boastful or braggardly. It’s been said, when you sing your own praise, you always get the tune too high. Let us not think of ourselves higher than we ought (Rom 12:3). Don't brag; it isn't the whistle that pulls the train! What do you have, that you have not received (1Cor 4:7)? Do not rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil (Jam 4:16). The law of faith excludes boasting (Rom 3:27). We should not boast about ourselves, but rather boast about our God (Jer 9:23-24). Psa 34:2 says, “My soul shall make her boast in the LORD…”. Psa 44:8 says, “In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever.”
Love is not “puffed up”, which means it is not proud or haughty. The great British preacher Charles Spurgeon was keenly aware of the dangers of pride. After his sermon one Sunday, Spurgeon was met by a woman who exclaimed, 'Oh, Mr. Spurgeon, that was wonderful."" 'Yes, madam,"" Spurgeon replied, 'so the devil whispered in my ear as I came down the steps of the pulpit."" Spurgeon had it right. Genuine compliments are no sin, but he knew that puffing God's people up with pride is one of Satan's favorite tactics. One reason the enemy uses this trick so often is that it is so successful.
John Bunyan said, “He that is down needs fear no fall; He that is low, no pride; He that is humble, ever shall have God to be his guide.” Knowledge only puffs up, but charity edifies (1Cor 8:1). Biblical knowledge must be translated into experiential reality, or it just makes one high minded and unteachable. Do not be vainly puffed up in your fleshly mind (Col 2:18) - which means, being deceived into thinking you know something, just because you have information and facts in your head. If you think you know something, you know nothing yet as you ought to know (1Cor 8:2).
Hudson Taylor was scheduled to speak at a Large Presbyterian church in Melbourne, Australia. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms. He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as 'our illustrious guest."" Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master”. Love is not prideful.
We see this in Philp 2:1-5. Paul encourages us to put others before ourselves; To esteem our brothers and sisters higher than ourselves. We are to let this mind be in us that was in Christ. “Let” means to allow. You have the mind of Christ in your born-again spirit (1Cor 2:16), but you must let, or allow, the mind of Christ to rule in your natural mind. Your natural mind is carnal, and must be controlled by the mind of Christ. Your thoughts must be taken captive to the obedience of Christ. The natural mind does not express the love of God. However, the person ruled by the mind of Christ does express and bear the fruit of God’s love. This last story touches my heart, for if anyone could get into pride, it would have been these powerful, highly effective preachers of the First Great Awakening. It is the picture of humility.
Although George Whitefield disagreed with John Wesley on some theological matters, he was careful not to create problems in public that could be used to hinder the preaching of the gospel. When someone asked Whitefield if he thought he would see Wesley in heaven, Whitefield replied, “I fear not, for he will be so near the eternal throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get sight of him”. That’s Philip 2:1-5 in action. That’s 1Cor 13 in action. Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!