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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Matt's Messages - Love Does Not Boast

“Love Does Not Boast”
Learning to Love
October 19, 2008
1 Corinthians 13:4

We’re learning to love.

Love is not just a warm-fuzzy feeling that we enjoy.
Love is not just a natural affection we have for someone else.
Love is not just a passing phase that we fall into and then out of.

Love is an act of the whole person, especially the will–to desire and choose what is best for someone else even at a personal cost.

Love is an active thing. It’s not just a descriptive adjective or a concrete noun.

It’s a verb. Love is a verb.

And we’ve been learning, with God as our teacher and 1 Corinthians 13 as our textbook, to do this thing called love.

We’ve been learning what it looks like when love does its thing.

Let’s quote our memory work together:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast...”

That’s what love is like. And it’s one of the most powerful forces on Planet Earth.

Last weekend, our family got to go up to Buffalo and see Niagra Falls.

It was our kids’ first time and Heather and my first time together.

Wow. There is power there! The rushing water going over those falls provide 4 million killowatts of electricity–enough energy to power 48 million 100 watt bulbs!

And they don’t harness a fraction of the power of the Niagra River!

But let me tell you this. Biblical love is even more powerful than Niagra!

Because Biblical love is powered by the Holy Spirit! It’s powered by the Creator of Niagra Falls!

When you see patience in action, you’re seeing God’s power.
When you see kindness in action, you’re seeing the power of God.
When you see contentment and happiness for someone else (that’s the opposite of envy), then you see a Niagra of power unleashed by the Holy Spirit.

We tend to think that when God’s power is evident, then it will show up in showy ways. The Klieg lights will come on! Boom!

But often, when God’s power is at work, it’s much more subtle, but much more effective.

For example, when you DON’T see...boasting.

“Love Does Not Boast”

1 Corinthians 13, verse 4 says, “Love Does Not Boast.”

I am proud to announce today that I believe that I have, this week, become the most humble person on Planet Earth!

I can’t even say it with a straight face!

No, I’m not.

In fact, even though I have a lot to be humble about, I struggle with pride.

And one of the ways that it comes out is in boasting.

We saw, last week, that pride (strangely enough) can lead to envy. Well, it can also lead, on the other side, to boasting.

What is boasting?

Boasting is praising yourself for some good that you think you have.

You might have something good or you might not, but you sure think you do. And you’re telling others. Boasting.

Remember last week that envying was being unhappy that someone else had something you thought was good.

Boasting is thinking that you have something good and then broadcasting it...with the emphasis being on yourself and your worthiness for this good thing.

I like to say that “Boasting is a mouthful of pride.”

When I’m boasting, I’m praising myself for some good that I think that I have.

Now, sometimes it’s blatant. Like my opening statement about my supposed humility.

But often it’s subtle.

Boasting (though it sounds like a loud word) doesn’t always come with loud words.

It is simply broadcasting your pride about yourself to others.

It’s making a show about yourself.

It’s making a relationship all about YOU. All about ME.

I knew that I shouldn’t have started this series on learning to love because I would begin to be convicted about my own heart and behavior.

This week, I was in a meeting that where, in the middle of the meeting, I suddenly became aware that I had made several remarks that showed that I thought the subject of this meeting was ME.

Now, I didn’t say, “Hey! This meeting is now about me!”

But because I’m growing in sensitivity to my own tendencies, I was able to see how I had turned the conversation back to me.

It was all about me, me, me.

Now, it’s possible that the other folks in this meeting may not have sensed that. I hope so. But it’s even more likely that they have seen it before I did and felt it.

Boasting.

Boasting is not patient.
Boasting is not kind.
Boasting may not be about envy (though it may), but it can provoke others to envy.

It’s the opposite of love.

And it’s ugly. Boasting is ugly.

We all feel that way when we come upon a braggart, don’t we?

Do you have any braggarts at your place of work?

You know, someone who can always top the last story with a story of their own and how they did this or that?

I read a story this week about a bragging woman who was visiting Washington D.C.

A sightseeing bus was making the rounds through Capitol, and the driver was pointing out spots of interest. As they passed the Pentagon building, he mentioned that it cost taxpayers millions of dollars and that it took a year and a half to build. While everyone was looking at it, a little old woman piped up: “In Peoria we could have built the same building for less, and it would have been completed even sooner than that!”

The next sight on the tour was the Justice Department building. Once again the bus driver said that it cost so many millions to build and took almost two years to complete.

The woman repeated: “In Peoria we would have done it for less money, and it would have been finished much sooner.”

The tour finally came to the Washington Monument, and the driver just passed slowly by without saying a word.

The old woman was curious. “Hey,” she shouted to the driver, “what’s that tall white building back there?”

The driver looked out the window, waited a minute and then said, “Search me, lady. It wasn’t there yesterday.”

We all get tired of boasting...when it’s other people that are doing it!

We know that they are not loving, so we are turned off by it.

Kids, can you think of other kids at your school or on your team that are known for their boasting?

If they are boasting about something they truly have, like athletic ability, then we can sometimes respect them for that thing that they possess, but the boasting still normally turns us off, doesn’t it?

Muhammad Ali said that it “ain’t bragging if you can back it up.” But I think it still is.

Boasting turns people away from each other.

We aren’t attracted to boasting. We’re repelled by it.

Think about what boasting does in a marriage.

If the husband or the wife or both of them consistently have a mouthful of pride, it drives a wedge in between them.

I know that I can run down my wife’s battery faster than a short-circuit by talking about myself and my thoughts and my accomplishments (however modest they really are) for 10 or 15 minutes.

It wears her down.

I’m not talking her down. I’m just talking myself up. But it wears her down.

Because it’s not love.

Love Does Not Boast.

Boasting kills churches.

Remember, Paul was writing this letter to a church that was proud of itself, even though it had very little to be proud of.

Corinth was a church that had spiritual gifts. Some of the members of this church had the showy spiritual gifts and some didn’t.

Those who didn’t were probably tempted to envy. (What we talked about last week.)
But those who did were tempted to boast.

So, Paul says, “Church, love does not boast.”

The Greek word here for “boast” in 1 Corinthians 13:4 appears only here in the Greek New Testament, and it’s the first occasion that we have it in all of Greek literature.

It’s possible that Paul even made up the word: “perpereuetai.”

It literally means to “behave as a braggart” or “be a windbag.” [Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, pg. 637]

And it’s the opposite of love.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until after this election season is over so that we don’t have to listen to the parade of candidates continually telling us how awesome they are and what they are going to do once we elect them!

Boasting is not love.

So, why do we do it?

If we all recognize that boasting gets ugly when we see it other people, why would we get caught up in it? Especially as Christ-followers?

It’s because we’re proud people full of ourselves. And what we are full of comes out of our mouths.

Jesus said that out of the overflow of our hearts our mouths speak.

So the main way to bust our boasting is to do some heart-work.

We have to deal with our pride.

Now, we’re going to go further into pride next week, because [memorize this], “It is not proud.” That completes 1 Corinthians 13 verse 4.

But we have to talk about pride right now because it’s where boasting comes from.

In our hearts, we are proud when we fail to recognize who we are in comparison with Who God is.

We shove God out of our way and into a corner.

And we make much of ourselves.

And that’s what’s coming out of our hearts in a mouthful of pride.

What we need is humility.

Repentance and humility.

We need, we all need, a greater vision of the greatness and glory of God.

I don’t think that I’ve been talking enough about the glory of God the last few months.

I think we’re starved for the glory of God.

God is infinitely glorious.

God made the sunrise.

God made the power of Niagra Falls.

And God is holy.

God is righteous. He has never sinned.

Just like we sang this morning. Thank you for picking that song, Tom.

Only You are never sinning - Only You have never lied
Only You cannot be tempted - Only You can never die
Lord, there is none like You...

For You Are Holy!

That’s God. And we are nothing in comparison to Him.

But more than just being the Creator and the Holy One.

He’s also the Lover of Our Souls.

When we rebelled, He rescued!

When we stabbed Him in the back, He opened His arms and received us.

He gave His One and Only Son to die in our place to demonstrate the greatest love there ever was!

And He saves us without regard to our sins.
He saves us by grace through faith–a gift that we receive and do nothing to earn.

That’s Who God is. He is glorious! ....

And that should put us into perspective in our own eyes and our own hearts.

When we see Who God is, it gives us a proper understanding of who we are.

And it changes what comes out of our mouths.

Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Your King and your Rescuer?

He can save you from your sins, and He can fill you up with Himself.

He can change your heart. And that will change whom you boast in.

I invite you turn and trust in Him for the forgiveness of sins and the filling of your heart. ....

With that kind of a heart, let me give you three points of application this morning that will help us to bust boasting in our relationships.

#1. RECOGNIZE BOASTING IN THE MOMENT.

With the description we’ve just gone over, it should be easier to see it when we’re doing it. And when we do, we need to change course.

Ladies, when you are talking with your girlfriends, watch out for replying to every story about them with a story about yourself or your kids or your man.

Men, when you are having coffee with some buddies, watch out for a preoccupation with your stories, your achievements, your thoughts about whatever is the topic.

Husbands, ask your wife about her day. And don’t tell her about your day until she asks.

Same thing with you, wives.

Kids, ask other children what they’d like to do for fun. Don’t just tell them what you like to do for fun.

Teens, be careful in the locker room when everyone gets to tell their story about the contribution they made to the team today.

Be different. Catch yourself in your boasting. And turn from it.

Same thing at the workplace.

Recognize when you’re boasting in the moment, and, in your heart, turn from it.

Fill up your heart with the glory of God, and you’ll find that there is no room for boasting. It is excluded.

And then change your behavior accordingly.

#2. DON’T BROADCAST YOURSELF.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to talk about yourself.

No, there is a way to talk about yourself and even the good things that God has given you without boasting. Sure there is.

There is a humble way of talking about yourself. The Bible is full of godly examples.

But, our bent, if we are learning humility, our bent will be to take the spotlight off of ourselves and beam it elsewhere.

“Love does not boast.”

Or, as the King James says, “Charity vaunteth not itself.”

Listen to what Jonathan Edwards writes about this.

Jonathan Edwards was one of the best theological minds that America has ever produced.
He pastored a church in the colonies before the American Revolution and was one of the presidents of Princeton University.

He writes, “Humility tends also to prevent an ostentatious behaviour. If the truly humble man has any advantage or benefit of any kind, either temporal or spiritual, above his neighbors, he will not affect to make a show of it. If he has greater natural abilities than others, he will not be forward to parade and display them, or be careful that others shall know his superiority in this respect. If he has a remarkable spiritual experience, he will not be solicitous that men should know it for the sake of the honour he may obtain by it; nor does he affect to be esteemed of men as an eminent saint and a faithful servant of heaven; for it is a small thing with him what men may think of him. If he does anything well, or does his duty in any respect with difficulty and self-denial, he does not affect that men should take notice of it, nor is he careful lest they should not observe it. He is not of the behaviour of the Pharisees, who, it is said, did all their works to be seen of men, but if he has done anything in sincerity, he is content that the great Being who sees in secret beholds and will approve it.” [Charity and Its Fruits, pg. 139]

Wow. A lot of wisdom there, huh?

Don’t Broadcast Yourself.

Of course, if you don’t broadcast yourself, you may not be noticed as much.

The world may not pay attention if you don’t blow your own horn.

On the other hand, you may also be noticed more. Humility is very attractive.

It even attracts God’s gaze.

Isaiah 66, verse 2 says, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

Humility is incredibly attractive!

Do you know someone who is humble? They are have so many good things going for themselves, but they don’t broadcast themselves.

They don’t have a mouthful of pride.

Do kids love people like that? You bet they do.

Most of us love people like that.

Humility is very attractive.

Don’t broadcast yourself.

Proverbs 27, verse 2 says, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.”

Don’t be the one to praise yourself. Let someone else do that. And let God take care of that.

Don’t broadcast yourself.

Instead #3. PRAISE GOD AND PROMOTE OTHERS.

More than just recognizing boasting in the moment and not broadcasting ourselves, we need to go one step further and give praise where praise is due.

We need to praise God. And, in love, promote others.

Our mouths will be full of something. Let’s let them be full of praise to God for Who He is and what He has done.

If we have something good, instead of boasting, let’s praise God for it. In humility, making it clear that we know that we don’t deserve it.

That it’s all of grace. That it’s a good gift from a great God.

We need to praise God. We need to boast in God–not ourselves.

And more than that, we need to promote others.

We need to build them up. If we’re going to talk about good things, why not talk about someone else’s good things?

One area where I don’t have much to boast about is shooting.

Yesterday, I brought home the booby prize for poor marksmanship on the rifle range at the Men’s Ministries Outing.

Lloyd Hampton has a broken arm and he shot better than I did! [That’s just a joke. Lloyd didn’t shoot.]

Some of the men in our church are excellent marksman. They consistently find the bullseye.

But you know what, they didn’t brag about their shots. They bragged on each other.

They razzed each other, too, all in good fun and manly love.

But they also praised each other and promoted the good that each other did.

They were showing love.

I might not have noticed that except that I had been thinking all day about boasting.

But boasting wasn’t there. Humility was.

Love promotes others.

And that’s true in all of our relationships.

Kids, do that on the playground. Point out how great someone else is at what they are doing. It will make their day! Do that on the soccer team. That’s love.

Husbands, promote your wife. Tell your kids what an amazing mother they have. Tell her parents and your parents how blessed you are that you have this woman in your life. And mean it. That’s love.

The Bible commends husbands for praising their wives in the city gates.

Wives, promote your husbands. Talk them up. Notice the things they do for you and for the rest of family. And talk about it. Promote them to the children. Promote them with your girlfriends. Don’t complain about your husband. Praise him. If there’s not a lot to praise, praise what there is to praise a lot. That’s love.

Workers,on the job, pass out praise. Promote your co-workers. Even your enemies.

I’m not saying to flatter people. I’m saying that we need to have our eyes open to the good that others truly have and do and then talk about it.

Parents, catch your children doing something well and then tell them and others what they have done. And don’t make it about yourself. “My little Billy finally listened to me and did this...” No. “I was so encouraged to see little Billy do this. Can I tell you how blessed I was?”

The same is true in the neighborhood. Promote your neighbors.

And in the church. I see that you did that for me this week. Thank for the picture and note in the Progress. It totally encouraged me that you called me a broken gospel record for the last 10 years. Thanks for promoting me.

I want to be worthy of the way you love me.

Love does not boast. It praises, not ourselves, but God. And promotes others.

Can you think of someone that God is calling for you to build up and praise and promote this week? Maybe even today?

That’s love. And we are learning to love.

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