Not Bragging (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Love is patient, love is kind; is not jealous; love does not brag; is not arrogant

1 Corinthians 13:4

The fourth item on the love report card is that love does not brag. In a time when the term “humblebrag” exists, this is a trait that I should probably take some time to mull over.

The term used can mean “to boast one’s self; a self display, employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one’s self excessively.” There is a word in the second definition that caught my eye: “excessively.” This, to me, implies that there is an appropriate level of “extolling one’s self,” or, at least, that the ancients thought so. And The Bible seems to bear this out.

In Exodus 34:6-7, when Moses asks to see God’s glory, God gives him a description of His (God’s) character — compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth. For anyone but God, the list of attributes would sound boastful. When coming from the mouth of God and being about God, the list sounds merely descriptive.

While it is possible for God to extol His virtues and not become boastful, it is unwise for me to try. It is not that God is unable to empower me to do such a thing, but that I am far better served by boasting in Him. He has done great things and being focused on Him and the great things He has done and is doing and will yet do is a certain way to prevent braggadocio. There is nothing in me that is good apart from God (Romans 7:18; James 1:17).

If love is not boastful, then what is it? Humble. Love does not think much of itself and I should not either. I once heard it expressed, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but is thinking of yourself less.” If I am to take on the character of love, I need to not brag; not think much of myself — not really take much thought of myself at all, except how I can become more like Christ and how I can better serve Him and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

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