1 Cor. 13:5 – Love is not Proud, Rude, Selfish, Irritable

Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 30 Aug 2009


I. Introduction/Review

Love seems to be the mother of all the fruits of the spirit. What is love?

·        Love suffers long

o       Long-suffering involves forgiving others as God forgave you

o       Longsuffering also includes putting up with the inconveniences of those who are weaker or more immature:

o       Long-suffering also involves waiting for God’s justice and the fulfillment of His promises:

o       Longsuffering should be on our minds: So that we walk patiently, So that we remember the example of patience in others, So that we pray for patience, So that we teach others patiently:

·        [Love] Practices kindness

o       Once again, any kindness we express is to mirror the kindness God has shown to us in leading us to repentance, forgiving us, and blessing us.

·        Love does not envy/is not jealous

o       If you love others, however, their advancement does not threaten you because you want to see them blessed!

·        Love does not parade itself/does not boast/brag

o       How much you spend talking about yourself vs. how much you spend listening to others is a good gauge of your love.

o       Braggarts build themselves up, jealous people tear others down, but loving people build others up.” (Strauch)


Now let’s cover the next 4 things that love is NOT :


II. [Love] Is not puffed up/proud/arrogant

·         Root of this word is the concept of a “bellows” [picture of  bellows]

·         Symbol: BLOWFISH

·         Arrogance has been mentioned several times in 1 Cor. It can be caused by:

o       Making false judgments: 1Cor. 4:6  Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become puffed up in behalf of one against the other.

o       Lack of accountability (not placing self under authority) 1Cor. 4:18  Now some have become puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.
(Diotrephes was an example of this 3 John – he “loved to be first” and would not acknowledge the authority of the apostles)

o       Idle talk: 1Cor. 4:19  But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power.

o       Responding to sin with tolerance rather than repentance: 1Cor. 5:2  You have become puffed up and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.

o       Reliance on education and information rather than building covenantal relationships: 1Cor. 8:1  Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.

o       Thinking not based on God’s word: Col. 2:18  Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on things he has seen, puffed up without cause by his fleshly mind…

·         4 Ways To Puncture Pride:

1)      Consider others 

o       Don’t overestimate yourself – inflated view of self – instead, consider others as more important than self. (Phil. 2)

o       “Pride leads to every other vice; it is the completely anti-God state of mind” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

2)      Give yourself 

o       “Love is concerned to give of self rather than self-assertion.” (Arnold)

o       “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” Eph. 5:25

3)      Walk humbly

o       Mat 23:11-12 “he that is greatest among you will be your servant, and whoever exalts himself will be humbled; and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

o        Jonathan Edwards once observed that, “Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil’s reach than humility.”

4)      Serve others

o       One of the best ways to puncture self-inflated pride is by looking for ways to serve those who you are tempted to look down upon.

o       That’s what Jesus did when His immature disciples gathered in the upper room:
He found the washing equipment used by the servants,
took off his teacher’s robe and dressed like a servant,
and humbly washed the dirty, stinky feet of all the people in the room. (John 13)

o       In what creative ways can you humble yourself and serve others?


III. [Love] Is not rude

·         Symbol: DOG.

o       Don’t be offended if you are a dog lover, but dog’s social graces are limited.

o       I’ve seen dogs flop down on the floor amidst a group of well-dressed people and proceed to gnaw noisily on their private parts.

o       Give a dog a bone, and he will slobber all over it, blissfully unaware of how gross the people around him think that is.

·         Only other place this word is to be found in the Bible is 1 Cor. 7:36, where it speaks of a man acting in a disorderly/unbecoming/improper manner toward a woman.

·         Also translated “unseemly” (KJV), “unbecomingly” (NASB), “dishonorably” (F.F. Bruce), “in­decent” (ATR), “ill-mannered” (Anderson), “uncourteous, inattendant to civility and propriety” (JFB), contrary to established standards of proper conduct (Strauch).

·         The late Jack Arnold, in preaching on this point wrote:

“The Christians at Corinth were not acting in an appropriate way. Women in the church were refusing to have their heads covered when praying and prophesying. They were coming to the Lord’s Table drunk, and the rich were not waiting for the slaves to eat at the Agape Feast… Love does not have actions which will disgrace or dishonor the brethren. It does nothing for which it is ashamed and always conducts itself in a decent manner. Love’s whole deportment is decorous and becoming. It does not act ungraciously and ill-mannered. It avoids any act which would be inappropriate – improper actions and dress, indecent language and innuendoes and double meanings. Why? Because love does not act rudely.” (www.cleartheology.com/expo/03I%20Corinthians/I%20Corinthians%2041.doc)

·         Proper behavior

o       Dress

§         There is value in dressing appropriately for different occasions.

§         In worship, we want to wear clothing that does not call attention to ourselves.

§         In mixed company we should not wear clothing that reveals our body.

§         Although well-worn jeans and a t-shirt may be more comfortable, it is a matter of respect to your social contacts to wear clean, respectable clothing when you meet them.

o       Speech

§         We are called to be respectful in our speech around those who are older than us and around those who are our leaders.

§         Even around our peers we need to be careful to listen and not interrupt other people’s speech, and not walk into a room talking with the expectation that everyone wants to hear us.

§         We must be very careful and sparing in our use of crass humor, sarcasm, irony, complaining, and harsh criticism. Words of thanks, honor, spiritual edification and encouragement will usually be more appropriate.

o       Relationships

§         Because the other use of this word seems to be speaking of an inappropriate sexual relationship, we need to be especially careful that we are acting appropriately with members of the opposite sex, not crossing boundaries into behavior that carries the appearance of evil.

§         I have a personal standard that I will not be alone in a house with a woman who is not my wife. That avoids even the appearance of the evil of adultery.

§         Standoffishness with family members, on the other hand, is rude. You are called to closeness with your own brothers and sisters and parents, and even to a certain extent with other members of your church.

o       Culture:

§         This cuts two ways, first in how sensitive we are to other people and their cultures. For instance the Zachary family’s culture is “early to bed, early to rise.” That’s not my family’s culture. So when we visit the Zachary’s house for an evening we need to be sensitive to their culture and quit visiting much earlier than we normally would in our own home so that they can get on to bed. My family is not very good about letting the Zacharys go to bed early, but the Zacharys are very gracious hosts and they are willing to stay up to talk to us even though it means a short night of sleep for them.

§         All of this of course is intensified when you are involved in more distant cultures like Hudson Taylor was when he, as an Englishman, established the China Inland Mission. He once wrote that “Really dull, or rude persons will seldom be out of hot water in China; and though earnest and clever and pious, they will not effect much. In nothing do we fail more, as a mission, than in lack of tact and politeness.”


IV. [Love] does not seek its own/not self-seeking

·         SYMBOL: CAT.

o       Again, don’t be offended if you are a cat lover.

o       I’ve owned cats for years and have a special place in my heart for them, but I have noticed that cats are very selfish.

o       They have a knack for finding the softest, most temperature-controlled places in their environment and sleeping there.

o       Last week I found that a cat had chosen to nap on my pillow. I don’t like it when cats sleep on my pillow because I’m allergic to cat dander and I get nasty allergic reactions when it gets on my face from the pillow. I don’t think the cat cared, though. It wasn’t thinking of me when it was choosing the softest, most comfortable  place for itself.

·         This relates back to chapters 8 & 10

o       where the more spiritually-knowledgeable people were stubbornly flaunting their Christian liberty to eat meat sacrificed to idols, and

o       inflexibly demanding the people with weaker consciences to adjust themselves to this practice.

o       Paul wrote in that context (1 Cor. 10: 23b-24) “‘All things are permissible,’ but not all things build up. No one should continue to seek what is for himself, but rather what is for the other.”

·         Jesus’ disciples struggled with the same issue

o       In Mark 10:37, James and John asked Jesus, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left in your glory.”

o       This display of selfish ambition to get the two highest seats in heaven next to Jesus did not contribute to peace among the disciples. They all got angry with James and John because they wanted the glory of high status too.

·         Phil. 2:3-8 [do] nothing through strife, nothing through vain glory, but with humbleness of mind let each consider one another superior to themselves, looking not to themselves but each one on the things of others. Have this attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, while existing in God’s form, did not consider being equal to God a prize to be clutched, but rather, emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And while He was found in appear­ance as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death – even death by crucifixion.

o       Love gives up its entitlements and thinks of others first (Anderson)

·         Examples of unselfishness

o       Jesus

§         Rom 15:2-3 “Let each one of us try to please his neighbor for that which is good, toward edification. For Christ also pleased not himself; but, as it is written, ‘The reproaches of them that reproached you fell upon me.’”

§         Even though He wished there was some way that he would not have to “drink” in that agony and shame, Jesus endured the cross in order to please His Father and save us.

o       Paul

§         1 Cor. 10:33 “…I myself also am pleasing all men in all things, not seeking the bear­ing together of myself but rather that of the many, in order that they might be saved.”

§         2 Cor. 12:14-15 “…I don’t want to be a burden to you: for I seek not what is yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls…”

o       Barnabus (thanks to Alexander Strauch for this example in his book, Leading With Love)

§         Real name was Joseph – Acts 4:36, but he was so thoughtful of others that he was re-named Barnabus “son of encouragement”

§         Commissioned by the apostles in Jerusalem to pastor the new church in Antioch, Syria.

§         Instead of seeking prominence and security in pastoring that church, Barnabas traveled, at great personal sacrifice, to Tarsus in Turkey to find Paul and bring him into the ministry at Antioch.

§         This meant sharing the glory with Paul who was really more gifted at teaching. Barnabas pushed Paul forward, and Paul became the more prominent of the two.

§         Why? Because Barnabus was more concerned about doing what was best for the growth of the church than what was best for his personal advancement.


V. [Love] Is not irritable/provoked/easily-angered

·         The word “easily” is not in the Greek text. Ralph Earle suggested that it was added to the KJV be­cause King James had such a violent temper that the translators wanted to set the bar lower for him.

·         Not only does it not fly into a rage but does not yield to provocation (Robertson and Plummer).

·         Points back to chapter 6 where Paul admonished the Corinthians against frivolous lawsuits:

o       “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?”

o       We whose sins have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus
should, of all people, be the quickest to forgive others!

·         “When [we get] angry, problems are exaggerated, miscommunication and misunderstanding abound, and objectivity and reason disappear. When anger rules, small problems become big explosions that can blow a community to pieces… [M]uch more damage is done… by out-of-control anger than we care to admit…[W]hen we face conflict and relational pain, we are to be Spirit-controlled and self-controlled (Gal 5:22-23)… When you are dealing with someone who is disagreeable or thoughtless, or who simply sees things differently than you do, what comes out of you? Take this matter seriously before the Lord and guard yourself from any self-justification.

o       Can be done actively by blowing your stack or passively by pouting.  (Arnold)

·         God is provoked by sin, so it is appropriate to be disturbed when you see sin:

o       Isa. 65:2  I spread out my hands all the day to an obstinate people: those who walk in the no-good way after their devisings, 3. the people who provoke me to my face continually,  sacrificing in the gardens and burning incense upon bricks, 4. the ones who sit in the graves  and spend the night in the guarded places, the ones who eat the flesh of swine, and the broth of tainted meat is in their cookware, 5. the ones who say, “Keep to yourself; do not approach me, for I have become holier than you!” These are a smoke in my nose - a fire burning all the day. 6. Look, it stands written before my face, “I will not keep silent unless I have brought closure.” And I will bring closure upon their bosom – 7. your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together, declares Jehovah, in which they smoked upon the mountains and defamed me upon the hills. So I will measure their work headfirst upon their bosom.

o       Acts 17:16 “Now while Paul waited… at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he beheld the city full of idols.” Note that this provocation led, not toward pulling out a gun and shooting people, but rather to preaching the truth.

·         The Biblical ideal:

o       Prov. 15:18 – “A wrathful man stirs up contention; But he that is slow to anger appeases strife.”

o       James 1:19-20 “Let every one be… slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

o       Titus 1:7 – “An elder must not be quick-tempered.”

o       Heb. 10:24 “Let us consider one another to provoke toward love and good works”

·         ILLUSTRATION: Hudson Taylor, a missionary in China, once called for a riverboat to take him across a river. As the boat arrived at shore, a wealthy Chinese man came up behind Taylor in a hurry to get into the boat. The man pushed Husdon Taylor aside with such force that he fell into the mud. Horrified by what he had seen, the boatman refused to allow the wealthy man to board his boat, because Taylor had been first to call for his services and was a foreigner who deserved, by Chinese customs, to be treated with respect. The rich man didn’t realize Hudson Taylor was a foreigner because Hudson was wearing traditional Chinese clothes. However, when he realized what he had done, he instantly apologized. Hudson Taylor didn’t react with irritation or anger; instead, he graciously invited the man to join him in the boat and witnessed to him of Christ’s love. He responded to a provoking situation according to the “way of excellence.” (Martin Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, vol. 1, as quoted by Strauch.)


V. Conclusion

Oh God, please forgive me for my lack of love. I have been so selfish in protecting my own interests and not wanting to give up anything to show kindness to anybody else. I am so pig-headed. I come to you in Jesus’ name, who paid for this sin with His blood on the cross, please forgive me of this sin!

This may mean going to the person you have offended and apologizing to them and offering to make things right. I recently realized that I had carelessly maligned a fellow presbyter in a sermon illustration a year and a half ago. I had to go back and delete that illustration from the sermon that I had posted online and write to that pastor and ask for his forgiveness. There is another pastor in another denomination that I did something similar to that I’m still working up the courage to apologize to. Who do you need to apologize to?

This calls for praying a lot:
 Father, help me to love as I step into this classroom, into this office, into this kitchen.
God please give me the words to say as I respond to what this person has just said to me.

Lord, please lengthen my fuse and help me to put up with this provocation.


“There is no gift of God more excellent than love. It alone distinguishes between the children of the everlasting kingdom and the children of everlasting perdition.” (Augustine)