Love is Not Envious, Proud, or Rude (1 Cor 13:4-5)

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Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.


Definition of love. Love is a willful choice, not based in one’s emotions, the treatment of the one being loved, or the circumstances in which one finds themselves, to sacrifice themselves for the betterment or well-being of the other.
Anti-characteristics of love. Last week we were able to look at two positive characteristics of love. Love is patient and kind. Patience is the purposeful withholding of anger towards another. On the other hand, kindness is the active good done towards another. Following these two positive attributes are eight anti-characteristics of love. We’ll look at the first four today, those being – love does not envy, or boast, is not arrogant, and is not rude.

Love is not arrogant and does not boast.

Arrogance is the root of boasting. Nestled in the midst of these 8 anti-characteristics is the root attribute from which the other characteristics grow. We will find that most, if not all, of them are rooted in a proud heart.
Defining boasting and arrogance. It is pride that is the root enemy of love. Paul tells us that love does not boast and it is not arrogant. Arrogance is pride. It means to be puffed up, conceited, and haughty.
Boasting is equivalent to bragging. Boasting or bragging is one of the visible fruits of a proud heart. When we think too highly of ourselves or have a puffed up view of ourselves, we tend to either speak poorly of others or speak really well of ourselves. This speaking well of ourselves is bragging or boasting and it flows from a heart of arrogance.
Pride strictly means, ”showing above” and speaks of “an empty boaster who brags of his position and despises others.”[1]
C.S. LEWIS. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind . . . it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.[2]
EDWARDS. The first and the worst cause of errors that prevail in such a state of things is spiritual pride. This is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of religion. It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit, to darken the mind and mislead the judgment. This is the main handle by which the devil has hold of religious persons, and the chief source of all the mischief that he introduces, to clog and hinder a work of God. — This cause of error is the main spring, or at least the main support, of all the rest. Till this disease is cured, medicines are in vain applied to heal other diseases.[3]
Scripture bears out Lewis’ and Edward’s dramatic statements. “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him [and first in the list is] haughty eyes” ( ESV). Pride is an abomination to God. He hates it, and God’s hatred is not nearly as trivial as ours. “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord” ( ESV). “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate” ( ESV).
Biblical Examples. With pride being such a foundational sin, there are plenty of examples wherever we look in Scripture. It is pride that resulted in Nebuchadnezzar standing on the roof of his palace and Babylon and saying, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” And yet, while the words “were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you” ( ESV).
It was pride that resulted in the Pharisee standing in the temple while looking down at the tax collector and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector” (). But before we walk away from this proud Pharisee, consider whether or not you thought, “Lord, I thank you that I am not like that proud Pharisee.” Pride is not bias or prejudice. It equally impacts and destroys the rich and poor alike. It embeds itself in the hearts of the powerful and the marginalized. The atheists and religious alike succumb to its’ temptation.
Love is the correction to boasting and arrogance. A proud person thinks too little of God and others and is consumed by thinking too highly of themselves. And it is here that we find that it is the opposite of love. We love when we place God and others above ourselves. While boasting and arrogant, we place ourselves above everyone else. Pride is not love.

Love does not envy.

Arrogance is the root of envy. What is it that roots envy in someone’s heart? Envy is held in place by pride. It is pride that clamors for recognition and loathes when others receive it instead. It is pride that aspires to a superior station, envies those above, and rejoices in their disgrace, failure, and loss. Pride and envy find no rest as long as they see others above them. Yet pride can manifest itself in ways other than envy. When possessions or position are acquired and envy subsides, pride revels and boasts in all it now possesses.
Definition of Envy. Envy is the negative expression of a strong or excessive desire for something. [4] You can have appropriate strong desires. In fact, Paul tells the Corinthians to “desire the higher gifts” () and “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts” (, ). The words in these verses that are translated “earnestly desire” are the same word that is translated in , “Love does not envy.” We can have appropriate passions for good things we don’t presently possess, but when those emotions turn to resentment, hostility, and jealousy towards others, you have become envious. The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (EDBT) defines envy as the “Sin of jealousy over the blessings and achievements of others.” [5]
Biblical Examples. You likely recall when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. They did this because they were jealous of him. Why were the jealous? “When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him” (, ESV). They desired their father’s affection in the same way that Joseph possessed it, and because they didn’t perceive that they had it, they were jealous. This jealousy worked itself out in the fact that they weren’t even able to speak to him in a peaceful manner. All of their speech to Joseph was unkind.
In , we read of David coming home after having killed the Philistine, and as the women come out to receive Saul, they sing a song. “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands” ( ESV). As a result, Saul is jealous of David and tries to kill him on a number of different occasions. It is this same envy that led the Jews to deliver Jesus over to Pilate (), and it is this same envy that had led to the Corinthians division. Paul writes in , “for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”
Envy destroys people and relationships. Job tells us that “jealousy slays the simple” ( ESV) and Solomon tells us that “envy makes the bones rot” ( ESV). Later in Proverbs, we read, “Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” ( ESV).
Love is the correction to envy. If love does not envy, how would love interact in these situations? When we love others, we rejoice in their happiness. We would not envy them. They are not to blame for what may appear to be a superior position or possession. All that they are and have is a direct gift from God. We should be happy that he has so chosen to bless others. If their position and possessions are the result of hard work, we should appreciate those values in them. If their position or possessions are the result of sin, deceit or manipulation, we must know that God is aware and their enjoyment in such perceived blessing is of an earthly and temporal nature. Either way, envy is not love.

Love is not rude.

Definition of rude. The word translated rude in the ESV contains the idea of behaving improperly, defying moral or social standards, or indecent. Rude is most certainly implied in the Greek word, but it may fall short of the full intent of this word. Other versions read, “Doth not behave itself unseemly” (KJV), “does not act unbecomingly” (NASB), and “it does not dishonor others” (NIV). You could theoretically be rude and not necessarily dishonor or shame someone else. You could break social or moral norms and only reflect poorly on yourself and not necessarily shame someone else. While this word would include this kind of rude or inappropriate behavior, the meaning goes deeper and more personal than this. Inherent in the word, and the context, seems to be the idea that your rude behavior directly shames or hurts someone else.
This behavior could be verbal or nonverbal. It could be gestures, facial expressions, or words. Rude includes anything you do in front of others to inappropriately draw attention to yourself or hurt, shame, embarrass, or humiliate someone else. This could be malicious or just thoughtless, purposeful unkind words or belittling jokes.
Biblical examples. First, prior to his “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem days before his death, Jesus had his feet anointed by Mary in Bethlehem. Jesus and his disciples were in the home of Simon the leper, and while they were dining, Mary broke a very expensive flask of ointment and poured it over his head and anointed his feet with it. We are told in John’s gospel that Judas said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (). John goes on to tell us that he didn’t say this because he really cared about the poor but because he was in charge of the moneybag and had used it to help himself at times. The story, as outlined in Matthew and Mark, tells us that others as well scolded her for her actions (; ).
Let me explain why I choose this story to better explain the concept of “rude” or unbecoming and inappropriate behavior. You could probably conclude, as do Simon’s guest, that Mary’s actions were socially inappropriate. To others, this inappropriate behavior demanded that she be confronted. You may as well argue that she inappropriately drew attention to herself in this dramatic act. And yet, Jesus in no way admonishes her for her actions. In fact, he instead confronts those who criticize her. Jesus says, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (). In this story, those who appear to be more culturally aware are the one’s revealed to be acting in an unbecoming manner, for they are rude or thoughtless both to this women and to Jesus. On the other hand, the woman who appeared to be inappropriate, is applauded due to the tremendous love she displayed to Christ. She was motivated by love. They were motivated by selfishness.
Secondly, the woman caught in adultery. One morning, Jesus was in the temple and the scribes and Pharisees “brought a woman who had been caught in adultery.” They proceed to publicly condemn her and humiliate her. Without ever justifying her sin, Jesus is able to prick the conscience of each of these men so that they leave the woman there alone with Jesus. After they all leave, “Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ( ESV).
These religious leaders were not loving this woman. They were using her. They didn’t care at all if she were publicly humiliated. In fact, they were shaming her in hopes to be able to as well embarrass and shame Jesus. Jesus on the other hand, loves her and instead of acting unbecoming to her, treats her with kindness and love.
Finally, there are a number of instances in the Corinthian church in which these believers were acting rude and inappropriate towards one another. Some in the church were willing to publicly shame others by taking them to court to get money or some kind of recompense from them. The rich were willing to shame the poor by having communion as the poor looked on with no food. Others were drawing attention to themselves in public worship through inappropriate use of tongues and prophecy – all motivated by a desire to draw attention to themselves.
Love is the correction to rudeness. And the root of this rude, inappropriate and shameful behavior is pride and selfishness. Acting unbecoming and dishonoring others could be motivated by a desire to humiliate and shame them. It could be motivated by a desire to somehow lift yourself up. It could be motivated by a desire to draw attention to yourself. Whatever the reason, it does not have the welfare and happiness of the other person in mind, and love is the decision to sacrifice what you want and desire for the betterment or well-being of the other person.


Christ is the solution. We may be tempted to offer love as the solution to all these negative characteristics. And in one sense that is absolutely the case, but we will never love if we are not first clinging to Christ. He is not only the example of love to us, but is the power and source of our love. Cling to Christ and humility will replace arrogance. Cling to Christ and praise of God will replace boasting in yourself. Cling to Christ and contentment will replace envy. Cling to Christ and kindness will replace rudeness.
“Pastor, cling to Christ sounds really spiritual, but I don’t know what that looks like.” The concept of clinging finds its’ scriptural origin in the creation narrative. Following God’s creation of woman, Adam acknowledges that a man should “leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife” ( ESV). The man is to leave his parents and cling to his wife. This same word is found as God commands Israel to cling to Him. “You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast [or cling] to him” ( ESV). And again in chapter 13, “You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him” ( ESV). Sam Storms offers a very simple outline[6] for clinging to Christ that he has drawn from .
Give attention to God’s Word. “Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left” ().
Avoid pagan influences. Joshua writes in verse seven, “that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them” ().
Attach yourself to God. “but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day” ().
Cultivate a deep affection for God in every way. “Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God” ().
[1] Friberg, Friberg, and Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 390.
[2] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. (New York: Simon & Schuster Touchstone edition, 1996), 109, 111.
[2] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. (New York: Simon & Schuster Touchstone edition, 1996), 109, 111.
[3] Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards: Volume I & II (Kindle Locations 35548-35552). Candid Publishing. Kindle Edition.
[3] Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards: Volume I & II (Kindle Locations 35548-35552). Candid Publishing. Kindle Edition.
[4] Timothy Friberg, et al., Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament,185. ζηλόω 1aor. ἐζήλωσα; (1) as commendably striving for something desire, show zeal (for), set one’s heart on (1C 12.31) . . . (4) in a bad sense of hostile emotion based on resentment (be moved with) envy, be filled with jealousy, be jealous of ()
[4] Timothy Friberg, et al., Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament,185. ζηλόω 1aor. ἐζήλωσα; (1) as commendably striving for something desire, show zeal (for), set one’s heart on (1C 12.31) . . . (4) in a bad sense of hostile emotion based on resentment (be moved with) envy, be filled with jealousy, be jealous of ()
[5] Mark W. Karlberg, “Envy,” Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 204.
[5] Mark W. Karlberg, “Envy,” Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 204.
[6] Sam Storms, 4 Ways to Cling to Christ, (Crossway, January 6, 2016). Accessed May 26, 2017.
[6] Sam Storms, 4 Ways to Cling to Christ, (Crossway, January 6, 2016). Accessed May 26, 2017.
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