In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, the Bible lists the essential attributes of real love according to God’s description. It tells us what love is and what it is not. Verse 4 ends with two attributes that are quite similar but not the same: love does not boast, and love is not proud. Boasting is expressing one’s own value or exaggerated view of self and is rooted in pride, which is the feeling that one is more important or better than other people.
The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 13:4 for pride is phusioō, which means “to puff up, to inflate, blow up, or to cause to swell up.” Pride makes one inflate or exaggerate one’s own value. This makes a person excessively put self-worth above others and consequently think, speak, or act in ways that only benefit themself. This kind of heart puts other people’s welfare in contempt and makes one prone to commit many other sins. Love is quite the opposite. It is not easily given to selfish pride. It makes one look at their life with humility but not self-deprecation. It makes one look at others with high regard, not comparing one’s value against that of others. Love is not proud.
We must consider the danger that pride brings to self and others. Satan is the prime example of how destructive pride is. Scripture tells us of Lucifer’s fall from heaven because of his will to elevate himself above God.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”
(Isaiah 14:12-15 KJV)
When Satan tempted Eve in the garden of Eden, he exposed the same pride that also made man fall. He told Eve that if she eats the fruit that God forbade them to eat, her eyes will be open, and she will become “like God.” Pride has always been sinful. The desire to become “like God” or to be above everyone else is what caused Satan to rebel against God, compelled man to sin, and consequentially caused all of us to die. That same pride has wreaked havoc on many relationships in the world; most crucially, our relationship with God. When one’s vision is clouded with pride, even great men of God can be blinded and may respond without love for God and others. Selfless and Godly love cannot agree with a proud heart. One must strive to overcome pride for the sake of love.
The Bible teaches us in Romans 12:3 not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought but rather to think of ourselves with sober judgment and according to the faith God has distributed to us. That is why we must never do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but, in humility, value others above ourselves; not look out for our own interests only but take an interest in others too (Philippians 2:3-4). That is what real love is, according to God.
Jesus is the perfect example of a love that is not proud. Though He was God, He did not think of Himself as equal to God. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared as a human, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross. We must learn to have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had (Philippians 2:5-8).
We must also realize that the way we look at ourselves – with inflated self-worth – is unrealistic. We are merely deceiving ourselves. If you think about it, we are worthless and so deeply and hopelessly buried in debt because of our sins. We lost our true value a long time ago, the moment sin came into our lives. Our own brand of righteousness is merely filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). Our worldly wealth and impressive social status don’t mean anything before the all-powerful God. Apart from the mercy and grace of God, we are good as dead. Therefore, we are in dire need of salvation from the One Who loves us unconditionally, Jesus Christ. Knowing that what we have is merely borrowed, we are enabled to live with humility, loving others and loving God with a thankful heart. A heart that loves Jesus is a heart that is not proud. We must always remain in that love.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”
(John 15:5,7-8 KJV)