When Paula and I were first married I would often hear couples that had been married for a long time say that they were just beginning to learn what it meant to really love each other. Some even said that when they were first married they didn’t know what it meant to love at all.
I would agree with them. As I write this we have been married for 34 years and I love Paula much, much more today than when we were married. It has nothing to do with time, but with understanding what genuine love is and how to express it. Some have been married for years and are not growing closer to one another, but just tolerating each other.
Much of what we call love is “liking” someone. As long as their behavior is positive and agreeable with us we are able to “love” them. That is not love, though. And it will only last as long as the object is attractive.
True love, like God has for us, will be tested and is not always easy. When someone says, “I love you”, it is based on one of three motivations: love because of…love if…love in spite of. God’s love is “in spite of” our behavior and corrupt nature.
Most of the time our relationships are based on “because of” or “if”, and we stop “loving” when it isn’t returned. No marriage, home, or church can function properly without genuine love. In fact, at some point they will implode.
An interesting phrase is used to describe genuine love in the Bible – “…charity vaunteth not itself…” (I Corinthians 13:4). What does that mean?
The word “vaunteth” means to boast or brag and has the idea of pushing one’s self forward in order to be noticed and applauded. This is a person that admires himself and wants the applause of others. At the root of it is the assumption they are superior to others.
Love is humble. It readily credits God and others for whatever accomplishments happen in our lives. When we boast we do so because we feel we are superior rather than indebted to people. This is raw pride.
A braggart has a contempt and disregard for the person or institution to which they compare themselves and speak negatively against. In contrast, when we love we regard others with esteem and respect. We are quiet about our own successes and defer to how God and others have helped in the things we have done that were helpful.
When we boast we have no regard for how other people feel in our talking about things which they cannot do or have not done. In doing so, we are not showing love to them, but using to feel good about ourselves .
The next quality of love is that it is “not puffed up” (13:4). It is different from the word “vaunteth”. They are related, though. “Vaunting” is the verbalizing of pride; being “puffed up” is the heart attitude of pride that causes one to boast.
Simply put, love does not make public would should be private. In the following posts I’ll give three ways that love is quiet. Today when you’re tempted to boast and compare, be quiet and honor the Lord and those that have helped you.
“Boasting is the outward form of the inner condition of pride”. (John Piper)