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What Love Is Not

Love . . . is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.

—1 Corinthians 13:4

In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul not only tells us the positive characteristics of love—patience and kindness—but he also tells us the negative characteristics of love.

First, love is not jealous. When we think of jealousy, we usually think of possessiveness. But that’s not what Paul is talking about here. The word jealous in verse 4 means to envy; it means to desire what somebody else has. A good synonym would be covetous. It means you wish you had something that somebody else did, and it goes one step further—it means you wish somebody else didn’t have something they have. Jealousy is the opposite of agape love. Real love rejoices over what other people have instead of resenting it.

Second, love does not brag. In other words, love does not behave like a windbag. We all know people like that, don’t we? People who are always bragging about their accomplishments or name-dropping about who they know. The apostle Paul says that real love doesn’t brag.

Closely related to that, love is not arrogant. The King James Version translates it, “Love is not puffed up.” Love is not inflated with its own importance. The story is told that Winston Churchill once had an argument with his servant. He said to his servant, “You were rude to me.” The servant responded, “Well, you were rude to me first.” Churchill said, “Yes, but I am a great man.” Now that’s arrogance. Contrast that to the story about William Carey, missionary to India. He was invited to a nice dinner, and one of the hosts was a snob who wanted to humiliate William Carey. So he said, “I hear, Mr. Carey, that you were a shoe maker.” Carey humbly responded, “Oh now, you’ve heard wrong. I was not a shoe maker; I never had that gift. I was only a shoe cobbler.” Carey wasn’t about to inflate his resume in order to impress other people. That’s what love is. It is not arrogant.

Anytime you start to feel important, anytime you start to feel prideful, ask yourself this question: what do I have that I didn’t receive, either from God or from someone else? True love is humbly realizing that everything good we have in life is the result of either what God or other people have done for us.



Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Love Connection,” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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