1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Hopefully you have had the opportunity to follow along in this series
in the order presented as each day's message builds on the previous and feeds the next. For me yesterday's message on envy
was a huge foundational exploration which is paramount to the success of freeing our hearts and minds to be able to love more unconditionally. Without being filled with a gratitude for what we have the Lord will never be compelled to bless us with more of anything.
Envy feeds a bitter heart and we are to keep vigilant that we never become envious of anther's good graces. With that very thought in mind we move on to BOASTING
As we come to realize that all things are from God and become filled with an overflowing gratitude and eliminate envy from our own hearts we then have to be very careful to never take credit for anything in our lives, lest we devalue the gifts from God. God is the sovereign provider of all things. When we boast of ourselves or of our possessions we become the breeders of envy in others and take away the glory from God.
God warns us sternly about the dangers of boasting.
James 3:5-6 ...the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
I can use my own journey as an example. I get very excited about the things in my life that God has revealed to me about me. I find great joy in uncovering the horrible character traits that I have been so blind to my whole life. I now realize in reflecting on this topic of boasting that I have at times felt compelled to dominate a room with my testimony. It was never outwardly malice in intent however I now realize that in my zeal, instead of coming off as encouraging toward others as to what is possible with God when we call Christ to the center of our lives, it very easily could cross the line and be perceived as boastful, bragging over what "I" have accomplished.
Let me take a brief moment to state for the record, I do not on any level believe I am capable of any of the changes that have occurred in my life this last year. God picked me up out of a ditch, drunken and broken. My life was nothing before my surrender to Christ. I am blown away by what God is capable of doing in the life of a broken sinner and I struggle to not feel prideful at times, but all the glory is to God, for it is only He who works works to the good of all mankind.
Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
I realize in my attempt through life to find self worth I have been boastful in my career and personal life, looking for praise from others to feel good about myself. That speaks to the heart of codependency, a seeking of other's high opinions to find value in ourselves.
If our focus is to seek power and glory for ourselves then power will be our only reward for there can be no glory for a heart that is darkened and corrupt.
One form of this type of boasting is outright arrogance which clearly can only exist without the presence of God in one's hearts. It is to be consumed with pride and ego, one of the 7 deadly sins. Again Satan uses this mindset pervasively in our society, teaching us throughout our lifetimes to become great at whatever we do so we can be proud of efforts. "Look what I have built, see what I have done, look at what I bought".
If we become boastful in our successes we negate all value of the achievements for our words breed resentments not accolades. Only when we give glory to God and acknowledge the efforts and support of those around us do our accomplishments take on true value and meaning.
The whole "self esteem" movement with our kids is so misfocused and dangerous. It promotes the protection of feelings over right and wrong. "No" is being removed from our vocabulary. We are simply catering to emotional well-being. We should never be unhappy, we should never feel pain, there should be no disappointments. That is not life, that is a fairy tale. This is again a tool of the devil, prompting us to do whatever makes us feel good at the expense of other's well being and our future health and growth.
We take drugs, have premarital unprotected sex, drink to excess, are prideful, become filled with selfish ambition... all of these emotional and physical behaviors are used to make us "feel better", and it's all evil garbage that destroys love.
Boasting and pride comes from a mindset of increasing self worth and eliminating not only reliance but even acknowledging the very presence of God in our lives. Pride promotes individualism at the expense of community and connection. God cannot use a prideful, self-filled person.
As mentioned previously, an exercise I find very useful is to always explore the opposite of any word to gain deeper understanding into God's use of that word. The opposite of boasting or pride is humility, a character trait that is so paramount to love. When we are boastful not only do we fuel others jealousy and generate resentments, we lose the ability to be humble.
Again volumes exist in God's word on humility of which I cannot explore today but will surely tackle in depth in the future.
Love does not envy, and love does not boast. We are to be grateful for what God has given us and remain humble with full awareness it is all gifts from God. We can never expect accolades for our doing when in reality it is all God's doing.
God teaches us so much on each of these traits, we must spend time in our bible and remain prayerful at all times, for our human nature draws us to the opposite of love in ways we can't even recognize. God will lead us through anything and everything if we just come to trust and rely on His grace and strength and remain grateful and humble through all things.