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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Matt's Messages "Love Is Not Proud"

“Love Is Not Proud”
Learning to Love
October 26, 2008
1 Corinthians 13:4

How are we doing at learning to love?

This is our sixth message in this Fall’s sermon series–learning to love has been our subject. 1 Corinthians 13 has been our textbook. And God Himself has been our teacher.

How are we doing at learning to love? In all of our relationships.

Let’s say our memory verse together.

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

How are we doing at learning patience?

Patience is contentment while looking for something to change.

How are we doing at learning to be patient with others?

How are we doing at learning to be kind?

Kindness is wanting good for someone and giving good to them.

How are we doing at being kind in our relationships?

How are we doing at NOT envying?

Envy is being unhappy with someone else having something good.

How are we doing at NOT envying? Is envy getting in the way of our relationships?

And how are we doing at NOT boasting?

We learned last week that boasting is praising yourself for some good that you think you have. It’s “a mouthful of pride.”

How are we doing at NOT boasting?

That’s what love looks like when it does its thing.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, [and today] it is not proud.”

If you are like me, you’re probably struggling a bit with this sermon series.

It sounded good going in. “Oh, good something on love. That sounds nice.”

But it turns out to be hard. It turns out to be about developing patience and kindness and rooting out envy and boasting–which seem to be much more deep and difficult things to change about myself than I might have expected.

It turns out that I don’t naturally love. I like being loved, but I don’t naturally love others in this 1 Corinthians 13 kind of way.

And today, we find out why. It’s because of a heart attitude that IS natural to us, as sinners, that gets in the way of biblical love.

It’s the heart attitude called pride.

If you haven’t already, I invite you to open your Bibles with me to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians chapter 13, verse 4. 1 Corinthians 13, verse 4. Pew Bible Page #1137.

Verse 4 ends with these words speaking of love: “it is not proud.”

Paul says, “Love is not proud.”

Paul means that someone who is loving will not be prideful.

Notice that Paul is still being negative here.

The first two were positive: patience and kindness. Love IS patient. Love IS kind.

But then he went negative. Love DOES NOT envy. DOES NOT boast. And now, love IS NOT proud.

That’s a categorical statement.

Love does not exist where pride does.

Pride drives out love.

Pride and love are mutually exclusive.

Love is not proud. Period.

Pride is the opposite of love, and where it thrives, it kills love. Pride is a love killer.

And, so, if we’re really going to learn to love, we’ve got to kill our pride.

What is pride?

Let me give you the simplest definition that I could come up with:

Pride is believing that you are greater than you really are.

Pride is believing that I am greater than I really am.

It’s a heart attitude. It’s a belief.

It’s a perspective. It’s a considering of myself, my person to be better, greater, more important, more impressive, more...just about anything than I really truly am.

Pride is believing that I am greater than I really am.

The Greek word here in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is “phusioutai” and it literally means to be arrogant or puffed up. I think the King James version translates it like that.

I like the word picture in the King James – “puffed up.”

An inflated sense of greatness.

The Corinthians struggled greatly with pride. Paul has had to use this word to describe them 5 times already in this letter.

They were an arrogant, puffed-up bunch.

Full of hot-air and full of themselves.

And Paul has had to take them to task for their pridefulness.

Now he tells them in chapter 13 that they must put away their pride or they won’t be the loving church that God calls them to be.

He says, “[Love] is not proud.”

What’s wrong with being proud?

When you are you proud, you are so full of yourself that you can’t be full of God and can’t have a heart full of others.

Pride stands in the way of loving.

And we all struggle with it.

Think about it. When you are having a difficult time loving someone else–let’s say your spouse, or your child, or your co-worker, or your parent, or your neighbor–when you are having a difficult time loving someone else, what is the probably the number one reason for it?

Most of the time, if we are honest, it’s something to do with ourselves. Isn’t it?

It has to do with that middle letter in the English word pride. Pr-I-de. The three most important people to me: Me, myself, and I. It’s about me. It’s about how I feel. What I want. What I think I need. How that person makes me feel. What I think I deserve.

And when we’re thinking those things, we don’t see ourselves as arrogant.

We’re blind to it. But we’re in trouble with that blindness, because it’s leading us down the wrong path.

Others can see it. We are excellent at sniffing out pride in someone else, but we have a hard time seeing it in ourselves.

I read a quote this week, “Pride is the only disease that makes everyone sick but the one who has it.”

When we have an inflated view of ourselves, we don’t see God rightly and we don’t see others hardly at all.

And then it creates a host of other problems. Pride is a root sin that breeds all kind of other sins.

Last week we saw an obvious one–boasting. That’s a mouthful of pride. It’s broadcasting our pride.

But the week before that we saw that envying comes pride, as well. Envy says, “That good thing that they have, I deserve it. I may not have it, but I am worth it. I need it. I deserve (at least more than they do) to have it.”

That’s pride, too.

Pride is an insidious enemy that still lurks within the hearts of redeemed Christians.

And it must be rooted out.

And here’s the biggest reason why: 1 Peter 5:5.

“God opposes...what?...the proud.”

God opposes the proud.

Whoa.

How many here want to invite the active opposition of God Almighty?

I sure don’t.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

And that’s the answer–we have to cultivate humility in our hearts.

We have to root out pride and cultivate humility in our hearts–or else we will not love and we will experience the active opposition of God.

WE NEED TO HUMBLE OURSELVES.

Now, how do we do that?

How do we poke a hole in the inflated balloon inside our hearts?

Humility is not self-hate.

Pride is a kind of self-love, but humility is not a kind of self-hating, self-loathing.

We don’t become humble by humiliating ourselves.

We become humble by having our hearts filled with the glory of God.

We do it by seeing ourselves in the proper perspective.

Humility is not saying, “Oh, I hate myself!” That’s just another kind of pride and vain conceit.

Humility isn’t a false kind of modesty that puts oneself down all the time.

Humility is not a focus on oneself at all! It’s a focus on God and then on others.

Phillip Brooks, the author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” said this:

“The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.” [Quoted in Burning Out for God, E. Skoglund, p. 11]

In other words, the antidote to believing you are greater than you are is to see the greatness of God.

That’s how humility is born.

WE NEED TO FOCUS ON THE GREATNESS OF GOD.

Our pride will deflate when we see and savor how awesome our God truly is.

John Piper has often said that people don’t go to the Grand Canyon to increase their self esteem.

When we compare ourselves to God as He really is, we don’t put ourselves down, but we realize how small we really are.

God is the Creator.

Remember Isaiah 40?

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? [Everything fits right here for God.] Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?”

“Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? [Nobody.]
Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? [Nobody.] Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? [Yeah, right!]”

“Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.”

“Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.” He is so holy that you could burn down a forest and not have enough wood to make the sacrifices He is worth!

“...He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. [Whether they are named Obama or McCain!] No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

That’s Who God is.

Who are we compared to Him?

But it’s more than that, isn’t it?

He isn’t just great, He’s loving. And He’s stunning in His graciousness.

God isn’t just the Holy One standing over everything, saying, “I’m so great!”

He is so great that He sent His One and Only Son to live and to die for us.

He didn’t do that because we were so great.

It shouldn’t make us prideful that Jesus died for us.

It should humble us to understand what a sacrifice God made for us.

And then, we should be like Him. We should be humble.

Jesus was not proud. He was not arrogant.

He was a servant.

Remember what He said?

When James and John wanted to sit at his right and left hand?

He said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. [They are puffed up.] Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

He showed His true greatness by humbling Himself and putting others first.

Giving His life as a ransom for mine and yours.

When our hearts are full of that truth, we won’t be full of ourselves.

And we can get busy in love.

Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Your Rescuer and King?

Have you trusted in His ransom-payment of His life to forgive your sins?

If you have not yet, I invite you today to place your trust in Him and what He did on the Cross. It was the ultimate in humility–and it’s the answer for our pride.

WE NEED TO FOCUS ON THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

In view of the greatness of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to root out our pride and cultivate humility.

Now, at this point in the message, I was going to give you a list of 17 ways to cultivate humility that I got from this excellent little book by C.J. Mahaney, that I’ve talked about before–Humility: True Greatness.

But I’m going to leave that for another time. You can borrow the book if you want.

We need to cultivate humility and kill our pride.

But instead of giving you 17 good points, I want to just give you one thing to think about and apply this week.

And it’s this: WE NEED TO LEARN TO SAY THAT WE’RE SORRY.

There’s lot of ways that pride comes into relationships and messes people up.

But here’s one I want to focus on.

Pride keeps us from apologizing when we’ve done something wrong.

And we need to humble ourselves and say that we’re sorry.

Remember the Fonz from Happy Days?

I loved Fonzy on Happy Days when I was a kid.

The Fonz was the definition of cool.

And he knew it, right? He was proud.

What was it he couldn’t say? “I sssssssss....”

I was, “Wrrrrrrr....”

He couldn’t humble himself and ask for forgiveness.

What difference would it make in our relationships if we learned to say, I’m sorry?

Love is not proud.

What would it do to your marriage if you said, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

What would it do to your parenting? It can be really hard to apologize to your kids, can’t it?

What’s it like at work? If you apologize, it might be seen as showing weakness.

“I’m sorry.”

In the last month, I messed up at meeting, and I needed to apologize to a specific person and a group of people who were at the meeting.

And I actually felt that I needed to write a letter to everyone who had been at the meeting to communicate my apology.

That wasn’t easy to do.

I had to swallow my pride, deflate the balloon and put it in black ink.

How about you?

Is there someone that you need to humble yourself before and ask for their forgiveness?

Kids? It’s not good enough to say, “I’m sorry!” You don’t really mean that, do you?

We need to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness.

I have someone right now that I need to ask their forgiveness, and it’s been 3 months since the offense.

I forget about it, until I see it on a note that I’ve written to myself on my to-do list.

I’ve called before and haven’t gotten through. This person lives a little distance away and I don’t see them very often.

But if my pride wasn’t in the way, I would have gotten done by now.

If my heart is full of God’s greatness and glory and my heart is full of thanksgiving for the Cross of Christ, I can humble myself and say, “I’m sorry.”

Husbands?
Wives?
Kids?
Church folk? Is there someone here that you have sinned against and you need to make it right?

With your neighbor?

With someone at school?

They probably sinned against you. Maybe even worse.

But that’s not what I’m talking about right now. I’m talking about you.

About love not being proud.

About humble yourself and asking for forgiveness.

Jesus humbled Himself and granted forgiveness.

We can humble ourselves and seek it from others.

Love is not proud.

What’s standing in your way? Don’t think of yourself as greater than you are.

You might have heard the saying, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

That’s absolutely false.

Love is learning to say you’re sorry.

Love is not proud.

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