‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.’ (1 Corinthians 13:4)
God is not passive about our pride or the pride of the church. When we are envious, boastful and prideful, we incur His discipline. Scripture warns us:
‘Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ (1 Peter 5:5)
“God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” (James 4:6)
‘Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.’ (Proverbs 16:18-19)
Let’s fear God and fear pride! Pride leads to a fall. I don’t think that we need to worry too much as to what form this fall will take, but, simply to say, it won’t be pleasant! God will ‘oppose’ us so we will incur hardship and the removal of His blessing. This fall certainly means the experience of bad relationships as our pride causes us to fall out with each other; if you have lots of scars from falling over all the time in your relationships, it’s good to ask, “Am I prideful”?
Pride always leads to falling out because it will not be told! When someone seeks to bring correction, they blow up because they are puffed up! When it’s not done your way you blow up, are sullen or refuse to play on the team. The proud person is full so cannot be told or learn from others.
C. J. Mahaney, writes of God’s opposition to pride:
‘Why does God hate pride so passionately? Here’s why: Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him.’ (Humility)
In our reading from Peter earlier, he urged us to ‘clothe yourselves with humility because God opposes the proud…’. This is a choice that we are to take responsibility for. Jesus gives an encouragement to humility and a warning about pride using this very clear and practical illustration:
‘When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”’ Luke 14:7-11)
We have opportunity every day to exalt or to humble ourselves. How can we take the lowest place in the different circumstances that we find ourselves? Could you speak with the people on the fringe? Could you eat last? Could you serve behind the scenes? Could you do a secret good? Could you pray in secret? Could you sit at the back to give others a better place? The Spirit will give us eyes to see opportunities to humbly serve if we are ready and willing.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have any encouragements to share from how God has been speaking to you from His word recently?
3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday, we continued with our series 'Becoming Love' from the book of 1 Corinthians, looking at the next three aspects of love.
Please read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
last week we looked at how love is patient and kind. This means that, like God, we endure in our relationships (patience) whilst also showing, sometimes, undeserved kindness (kindness or mercy). This week, we are considering the next three facets: love avoids envy, boasting and pride.
i. LOVE DOES NOT ENVY - Envy (Zéloó) is to be jealous of others. Rivalrous and eager to possess what others have. Envy does not truly believe in the love of God. Deep down, the envious believe that God has overlooked them and favours others more highly. God’s love breaks envy because God’s love assures us that we are perfectly loved and are gifted according to His will.
ii. LOVE DOES NOT BOAST - Boating (Perpereuomai) is to be a windbag. It's to boast, lift ourselves up, show off and draw attention to ourselves. Again, this comes from a failure to understand the gospel of God's grace toward us.
iii. LOVE IS NOT PROUD - Pride (Phusioó) Is to puff or blow up, flaunting for personal benefit, trying to make ourselves look bigger. Pride is Believing we are better than others.
All of these aspects of failure to love, relate to 'Patience and kindness'. Understanding God's patience and kindness toward us free us from envy, boasting and pride.
i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?
ii) This section on love is about the correct use of spiritual gifts; how will avoiding envy, boasting and pride ensure that we use our gifts in a healthy manner?
iii) A practice for killing envy, boasting and pride is to be grateful and encourage others. Spend some time doing an 'I SEE IN YOU...' exercise: take time to tell each member of your group what you see in them: gifts, character, specific service for which you are grateful, prophetic words...
iii) In the blog on Monday (#596) I shared a practice for pursuing humility from C. J. Mahaney's book, Humilty. He encourages us to start the day by:
'REFLECT ON THE WONDER OF THE CROSS For me, the most consistently helpful item on the list is this: Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ. I believe this will be the most important habit and practice for you as well. To truly be serious and deliberate in mortifying pride and cultivating greatness, you must each day survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died.' (Humility)