by Ella Corey
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” -1 Corinthians 13:4
We see this verse all over the place. People have it tacked up onto their walls, tattooed onto their arms, in the captions of their Instagram photos, 1 Corinthians 13:4 is everywhere. What’s funny about this, though, is it’s not a pretty verse. It doesn’t glorify oneself at all. In fact, it states love as the exact opposite of that. It won’t make you look good; it won’t even make you feel good necessarily. But for some reason God calls us to love everyone humbly and unconditionally.
“It is not proud” hits the strongest for me. The heart has a natural tendency to stray towards a proud heart. It makes us feel good when others praise us. But that’s not what God intended, that’s not where he wants our hearts to be, that’s not love. In this passage Paul makes the claim that contradicts so much of what modern pop culture promotes: love is something that makes us feel good.
This especially stood out to me this morning as I sat in my Biblical Interpretation and Spiritual Formation class. We were handed a sheet of proud tendancies, along with the humble ones that went with them (I have pasted these lists below). Here we were given a simple task: to read and reflect on what resenated with us. This was an extremely convicting assignment. As I read through the pride list, I could feel myself resenating with almost every single one of them. Also, the humble list began to look more and more difficult. By exposing me to so many of my imperfections, this exercise itself was humbling.
But somehow we live in a society that promotes pride. “Self-centered indulgence, pride and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle,” says pastor Billy Graham. “The American Dream” isn’t about how much you can give to others, it’s how you can build yourself something out of nothing. Pride, arrogance, and love for ourselves make us feel good, but this feeling doesn’t last; It’s empty and incomplete.
To further this, I looked at the most prideful person I can think of: Patriots’ star quarterback, Tom Brady. In an interview with 60 minutes, Tom confessed that, even after all of his success, he still feels incomplete. “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me?” asks Brady, “Many people out there would say ‘Hey man, this is what it is.’ I’ve reached my goal, my dream… Me, I think God, there’s gotta be more than this.” You’d think he has all he could’ve asked for: a starting position, a winning team, a supermodel wife and more money than you could imagine. Of course he’s proud. But even Brady admits he’s still unhappy. The pride never did satisfy.
In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis cleverly analyzes the influence of pride. “As long as you are proud you cannot know God,” says Lewis, “A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” You are not loving others or loving God if your priorities are to benefit yourself. Love is humble, it seeks others first and lowers oneself. My encouragement is for you to analyze where you feel pride is getting in the way of you loving others. How can you live humbly this week?