Love does not brag and is not arrogant. (1 Corinthians 13:4)
If you love with God’s love, you will love without arrogance.
Arrogance is conceit. It’s an inflated sense of self-importance, ability, achievements, or worth. It’s connected with bragging. We can be arrogant without bragging, but it won’t last for long. Pride always finds a way of wiggling out. None of these things can exist within love. Because arrogance puts a focus on self, it can’t selflessly love others, which is a requirement of God’s love. Arrogance includes a disregard for others. Love never does.
Living out God’s love always involves a desire to please Him. When we desire to seek to live in and by God’s love, it’s never a burden, because God’s love includes a joy and peace in servanthood. Arrogance, on the other hand, demands the right to do whatever is selfishly wanted. Arrogance rejects the authority of God. Love not only acknowledges the authority of God but savors it.
The church isn’t void of arrogance. It seems it should be. After all, if arrogance and God’s love don’t co-exist, and God’s love (presumably) resides among God’s people, there should be no arrogance in the church. However, people in the church are just as susceptible to distortions of God’s truth as others. Yes, they should be more alert against and more aware of the possibilities of distortions and distractions, but that’s not always the case.
People in the church can think they have reached some level of spiritual status and then look down on others who haven’t reached the same maturity. Pride can sneak into our attitudes when we begin to think of ourselves as more humble than others. People in the church can boast about their spiritual accomplishments and brag about all their good deeds. We live in pride when we believe we are beyond reproof, even when we only reject certain types of reproof. We cannot become like the Pharisees who saw themselves as spiritual experts but missed the point of Jesus’ teachings and the possibilities of relationship with God.
Instead, we need to see ourselves as God sees us—nothing more and nothing less. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Love is sacrificial and selfless. There is nothing self-centered about it. It is centered on God and God alone. The opposite of love isn’t hate. Hate is the absence of love. The opposite of love is pride. Everything that we can say love isn’t is connected to pride. Everything that distorts or diminishes love is rooted in pride. Arrogance isn’t just behavior; it’s an attitude. And it’s a heart problem.
Arrogance isn’t just about putting oneself on top but also putting oneself on the bottom. Pride can be self-pity and self-loathing as much as it can be a grandiose sense of self. Either way assumes the person has a more accurate sense of position and worth than God does.
God defines who we are, and it is only when we are humble in our relationship with Him that we accurately receive and give God’s love. We cannot refuse to recognize our weaknesses. We cannot use God’s Word in an unloving way and adversely affect the unity of the church body or individual freedom and conviction in Jesus.
Dear God, pull out any hint of arrogance in me. It’s so difficult to ward off the encouragement toward pride that surrounds me. But I want to be humble, and I want to be humble in authentic ways. No falsehoods. No pretenses. Teach me to start in the center of Your love and grow outward from there. With any hint of pride, pull me back to the center and prepare me to serve You and others in an accurate reflection of Your love.