Lately, I have been exclusively in the Apostle John’s writings, in my personal readings, my blog writing, and my time with my wife.
John reiterates one theme, over and over again in my opinion, and that is that we are to love one another, to love like Jesus, to love.
It is refreshing to be reminded of the core mission of believers.
Love like Jesus.
Love is the goal of all of Christian life. Love that is displayed in the life of Jesus. The life and death of Jesus. This love is described in 1 Corinthians 13. Let’s consider
Love does not envy or boast
It has been years since a brother once instructed me to replace the term “love” with “Jesus” to get a better understanding of who He is.
Jesus does not envy or boast
The second term that describes what love does not do is boast
This word is used only once in the New Testament and we find it in the verse we are looking at.
The term is built on a root word to describe a braggart. Our modern descriptions would include a show-off, a blowhard, and egotist.
How does this relate to the popular self esteem movement that has travelled through the modern church in the last few decades? Is there a conflict with the teaching of high self esteem and the characteristic we are looking at today. Is being a braggart comporable to being one with high self esteem?
First off, let me confess my history with this movement. I have been involved with a church that jumped into this self esteem movement when it became uber popular in the 90’s.
I struggled with it due to the teaching that self esteem is equated with self love, and this is definitely a teaching that we need no help on. The Word describes us humans as having no trouble with self love. As a matter of fact, it is self love that has drove us from the love of God and love to God.
There is a confidence we believers are to exhibit due to the love of God expressed through Jesus work on the cross, the sacrifice he has given to redeem us from ourselves. Focusing on our own self is a dangerous past time.
A number of Bible passages speak of our requirement to humble ourselves. Verses such as
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
If we seek our own exaltation, we will fail. Humility before the Lord is the only way to be pleasing to the Lord and to find our self worth.
1 Peter 5:5-6
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
One more passage that speaks of the need of humility. It is imperative that we see this as an action we are to initiate. We are to humble ourselves.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
It is interesting that Paul does not tell believers to not think of himself too lowly than he ought to think. Think with sober judgement. Serious contemplation of self before the throne of the Father will bring about a crumbling of our self love. He is the one worthy of our love. Bragging of our own self worth or of our accomplishments is not in the description of love we are considering in this post.
So is boasting to be evident in the believer? The Word speaks of boasting in a favorable light.
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!
Our boasting is to be in the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice how David connects humility with boasting in the Lord. In our boasting of ourselves, we cut off opportunity to exult in the Lord
1 Corinthians 1:31
so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Paul, in speaking to the Corinthians, prior to getting to our chapter on love, speaks of the proper place of boasting the the believers life.
2 Corinthians 10:17
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
It seems the Corinthians didn’t quite get the message last time since Paul needs to remind them one more time of the principle of boasting for the believer to be in the Lord, (and not in themselves).
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Paul, in his teaching to the Galatians, speaks of the exclusivity of his boasting, in relation to his religious duties before the Father. He has none, as we need to recognize in our lives also, that before the holy Father, our deeds are not of boasting value. Only in the cross of Christ is the truth of boasting for the believer.
Jesus replacing Love
So is my brother’s suggestion of replacing the term love with Jesus accurate and helpful?
Jesus does not boast.
Is that a good description of the Lord Jesus? A few posts earlier, I referred to the Lord’s self description
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
He describes Himself as lowly in heart. Humble.
Since He is God in the flesh, any statement he makes could not be boasting. Say He declared “I made the moon” Well, that is a true statement, and the element of boasting may be evident if I said it, (along with the bold face lie), but for Him to make this statement would only be stating part of a greater truth.
I can’t see, given the status of our Lord, where boasting would be a possibility. He cannot lie and any statement He supplies is truth. Boasting may also be considered an attitude of superiority, and Jesus has informed us that this is not His attitude.
His attitude is of humility, of gentleness and of a low degree. This mind of Christ is to be in us my brothers. We are to take on humility and gentleness.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
Please join me in our next study where we will consider a sister characteristic of being “puffed up”. Hope you can join me as we continue our study.
I look forward to comments and discussion. May the Lord give you an understanding heart and a willing spirit to consider the Bible and all it’s wealth.
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