Love is patient, love is kind; is not jealous; love does not brag; is not arrogant
1 Corinthians 13:4
And the report card continues.
This morning’s concept is that love … is not arrogant. I have heard many and many a teaching on how arrogant means puffed up and how love is not full of itself therefore God is not full of Himself and I should not be full of myself. It makes sense and I have no intention of overlooking that aspect of what the word means.
But the word used, φυσιοῦται (physioytai?), is a form of a word that can mean “to make natural” or “to cause a thing to pass into nature.” So my concordance tells me. Love, as The Bible describes it, is not natural; is not something that will come to me without effort. The labor of love is that I labor to love.
I come away from this portion of the verse with two challenges.
One, am I full of myself? If honest, I will say that there are times when I am. That said, I can apply a statement once made about one Clement Atlee to myself: I am a modest (humble) man with much to be modest (humble) about. While I am predisposed — as are most people — to be full of myself, it is equally true that to be full of myself is to be tragically empty. There is not enough of me to fill a thimble, let alone a whole man. If I am full of myself, let me pour out that meager portion and be filled instead with God’s Spirit.
Two, am I doing only what comes naturally or am I going beyond mere nature? The attributes of love described in Paul’s magnum opus on the subject (1 Corinthians 13) are supernatural. No one is naturally patient — especially as patience much be learned through suffering long — and precious few are naturally kind. To love as God loves is to transcend nature and what is natural and to go further up and further in to where God dwells. Am I ascending to God’s level in my love for others or am I loving only as is natural? If I love only as is natural, let me earnestly implore God that He draw my sad attempts up into Himself and show me what it is to love as He loves.