Love is Not Proud
By DANNY MINTON
In the article All the President’s Wit, Gerald Gardner relates a story of a visit by Ronald Reagan to Mexico City. On one occasion, President Reagan stood before a large crowd and gave a speech after which, in conclusion, he sat down to rather unenthusiastic applause. The next speaker approached the podium and began receiving enthusiastic applause after every paragraph. Reagan, not knowing Spanish, did not understand what was said but joined the crowd in applause. After a bit, to show his enthusiasm, he applauded even before the group started. At one point, our ambassador leaned over to Reagan and said, “I wouldn’t do that. He’s interpreting your speech.”
Pride is like that. Without meaning to, we get caught up in ourselves, what we have, who we are, and how important “I” am. It becomes all about us.
Years ago, my wife worked in public relations at a Christian college. On one occasion, she booked people into motels and hotels for a lecture series that brought in thousands of people. All the nicer places had filled up when one prominent preacher called in late and asked for a room. She assigned him one available in what might we consider a 1 or 2-star motel nowadays. When he saw the assignment, he became angry and approached her, saying, “Do you know who I am?” She didn’t, but the higher-up administrators did and found a different place to stay. Later as we learned more about him, our respect for him dwindled even more, knowing his position and how he didn’t “practice what he preached.”
Bell Telephone had a survey years ago to see what people discussed over the phone. They discovered the most used word in phone calls was the word “I.” It showed a pattern of how many people become caught up in themselves. “I” is the most talked about subject for many people. With some people, the conversation always turns back to them in some form or another. Let’s face it, we all do it at times. We are “proud” of our accomplishments, awards, and successes, liking to boast about them. The problem comes when we use ourselves in an “arrogant” manner to indicate that we are better than others.
In 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is not proud” follows “Love does not boast.” The New American Standard Translation says, “Love is not arrogant.” Love doesn’t continually point to “me.” It doesn’t set “me” on a pedestal. It doesn’t make “me” the center of attention. It is less concerned about “me” and more concerned about “you.” Additionally, Paul references in 1 Corinthians 5 that we should never show pride in things we accomplish that are wrong. Recently I have noticed videos of how people show you how to cheat to win some video games. They show pride in their accomplishment. People show pride when they can get away with something, even if it’s at the expense of others.
The second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” To do this, we take pride out of the picture. Our focus changes to others instead of ourselves. The author of Proverbs wrote, “It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud.” Proverbs 16:19 (NASB)
I like the old saying, “Be kind to people on your way up because you’ll meet the same people on your way down.” When our lives become filled with pride and arrogance, we ruin relationships and turn people away. The “better than you” attitude severs ties with those around us and asks people, “Do you know who I am?”
Proverbs again tells us, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” Proverbs 29:23 (NASB) In other words, the best way for me to honor myself is to remove “me” from the picture and love “you” more. “He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor.” Proverbs 21:21 (NASB)
Lastly, it’s okay if you don’t know “Who I am,” as long as you recognize “who I serve.”
Danny Minton is an Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ