Love isn’t proud

Love isn’t… proud (φυσιόω/physioō, 1 Cor 13:4). It won’t maintain an exaggerated self-perception. This term uses the metaphor of inflation to warn against taking on airs, having an over-inflated sense of self-importance. I’m not speaking here about praiseworthy self-dignity. But there is this paradox in pride—it makes some men ridiculous, but prevents others from being so.

William Carey, a shoe repairman, went off to India and eventually became an accomplished linguist and one of the greatest shapers of modern international missions work. At an embassy dinner party, a snob said, “I suppose, Mr. Carey, you once worked as a shoe-maker.” Carey’s response gave telling evidence of his humility, which enabled him to avoid any humiliation: “No, your lordship; not a shoe-maker, just a cobbler.”

Pride & the Charismata

As Samuel Johnson noted, one of the reasons that pride is so out of keeping with love is that it “is seldom delicate; it will not please itself with very mean advantages.” And right there is where the rub is on the question of pride and exercising spiritual gifts. It seems to me that pride is the one thing that will give the hardest shove into the toxic works of the flesh, which will contaminate the charismata.

Pride will turn you away from doing things that are beneath your dignity—maybe as defined by your official position, or even by a puffed-up ego. Pride will make you want to push to the front when you gifted work should be behind the scenes. It will make you hunger for recognition and praise, and resentful bitter when you don’t think you’re getting enough of it.

A prayer against pride…

We know how pride can gnaw away at our spiritual hopes,
How pride intrudes on even our times of spiritual reflection.
We pray that you would nurture humility,
That you would starve pride.
In Jesus’s name, amen.


Author: Dale A. Brueggemann

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