Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
Sometimes when we have a pretty rose or the peonies are especially lush, I ask a friend to take some pictures of the flowers for us. I enjoy sending them to family or friends who live away from us, sharing the Lord's beauty with them. It might seem kind of strange in a world that shares a multitude of pictures in one fell swoop, but I like to send one at a time with a note. Just a glimpse, saving other photos for other days.
That's what we are doing today. Taking only a glimpse at love. The big picture is laid out for us in 1 Corinthians 13, a very familiar portion of scripture to many people. It is often shared at weddings as a challenge so that the husband and wife will be reminded what love should look like in everyday life. If you are like me, looking through the list of all the characteristics of love can seem overwhelming; so, lets look at only one of its beautiful facets for today. Let's think about the fact that love does not brag and is not arrogant, 1 Corinthians 13:4. Right from the get go, that means that we, if we are to walk in love, will take the spotlight off ourselves. How different that is from what we see all around us. We live in a world that often values being seen, heard and acclaimed. Why then does God picture love so differently? One thing is certainly true. If we want to be in the forefront, Jesus won't be. Many scriptures point to the fact that in truth, we have nothing about which we should boast.
For example, in 1 Corinthians 4:7, the Lord reminds us that we have nothing that isn't a gift from Him. Whether it is a talent or even the very breaths we take, Acts 17:24-25, He is the Source of each of these good gifts, James 1:17. Therefore, it is not loving to boast because the Person Who should be receiving honor has been sent to the sidelines, and our boasting doesn't show Him off to those who don't yet know Him. What a joy it can be to thank someone for honoring us for something we have done and follow that with an acknowledgment that our ability comes from God, Ephesians 2:10. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul reminds us of another area where God gives us no room for boasting. The fact that we belong to Jesus is not a platform from which we can laud ourselves. Instead of highlighting the fact that we came to Him, the Lord reminds us that even our faith to reach out to Him was a gift. Whenever we place the light on what God did for us, we boast in the right thing, the cross, Galatians 6:14. There is no room for looking down on those who don't yet belong to the Savior because it wasn't anything that we did that caused Him to set His love upon us, Romans 5:6-11. Instead, Paul reminds us to take our tendency to boast and use it to make much of our Wonderful God, remembering what He has done for us and boasting about Him, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.
Keeping our eyes on the greatness of God will also keep us from boasting one against the other. It is easier to show love when we view our brothers and sisters the same way we view ourselves. Recipients of God's grace. God knows how easy it has always been for His people to think more highly of their own strength than should be done. In Judges 7, that is the point He makes to Gideon when He pares down the army to 600 men. The odds are so stacked against Israel that they would not dare to boast in their victory. How many situations are like that in our lives. God brings us to places of dependence upon Him to keep us far away from boasting and arrogance. Often these circumstances are painful ones. I wish it didn't have to be that way, but when God does what He alone can accomplish it is another opportunity for us to boast in Him. It is another chance to keep the spotlight off ourselves and shine it where it belongs, on the Deliverer. The Psalmist said that some trust in chariots and horses, the strong things of the world. Yet, he said that rather than that, he would boast in His God.
Lord, help us to point to you, honoring You for Who You are and what You have done and will do, speaking about You throughout the day, Psalm 44:8.