Love Is Not Proud
I began studying love in the Bible late last year (2010) as an extension of some biblical research I had just done on the topic of hatred in politics. That research lead me to the famous love list of 1 Cor. 13:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
Over a period of about twelve months, I took each word from the list and studied it, meditated on it and prayed about it. I took my time with each word because the picture that began to reveal itself in such great detail was a picture of Christ Himself. In fact, the reason I decided to spend so much time on this short and overly quoted passage in the Bible was because the word patient baited me and hooked me and I became so caught up in the significance of that one word that I hungered for that same clarity and understanding for the rest of the list. In short, I wanted to know love so well that there would be no doubt in my mind about how to live that way.
Coincidentally, while I was studying 1 Cor. 13, I played a gig in Ft. Worth for a South African Jewish man. It was his birthday and he hired the Richard Brown Orchestra to provide swing music for dancing. The highlight of that gig for me was when he stood up and honored each guest (I remember there being about fifty of them) by acknowledging how he or she contributed to his life. I sat there with my jaw hanging half open because here was someone acting on one of the words in the love list. I saw “love is not proud” being modeled for me and I do not believe this was a coincidence. I believe God set this gig up for me just so I could be part of this blessing that I would never have witnessed otherwise.
Think about it! Here we have a man who is obviously successful at what he does and it’s HIS birthday. According to our American culture, he would have been within his ethical boundaries to spend the day wallowing in selfishness and basking in the praises of his guests. Instead, he chose to acknowledge that his success was partly theirs as well. Instead of having an attitude of, “look at me, look how wonderful I have become,” he chose to use his day to thank the people in his life for how they enriched his life.
In the Bible the word “proud” seems to indicate an attitude of thinking you built yourself up. Ezekiel 31:9-11 talks about the tall cedar that became proud of its own height, as if God hadn’t made it tall in the first place. Pride is when we fail to acknowledge God or other people for how they contribute to our lives. Most importantly, to live a life of love, we must do as the South African Jewish man did at his birthday party. We must acknowledge God and other people for the value they bring into our lives.
That is the inspiration for my Life Builders Series. I am acknowledging those people who have made a positive impact in my life. Yes, I am relatively successful at what I do, but that success is not mine alone to boast about. There were a great many people who built my life into what it is today.
Because there are so many people who have contributed to my life, this is going to be an ongoing project. I expect to be doing this for a long time.
One thing I probably should mention here is that I made a decision many years ago to honor people while they still live instead of waiting to do it after they die. For that reason (and that reason only) you won’t be seeing any Life Builder posts about people who have contributed to my life but have already passed away. I mean them no disrespect, but my call for many years has been to honor the living and let them know how precious they are to me while I still have the opportunity to do so. So you won’t be seeing Life Builders posts about my father, grandpa Miller, grandaddy Lewis, grandma Lewis, Conrad Johnson, Barry Lee Hall, Gerald Hunter, Joseph Packales, Gil Valentine, Pat Hill, Jorge Avendaño, or Abraham Chavez (and many more, really). All these people contributed so much to my life, but I am dedicated to spending the time I would have spent honoring them honoring those people who need to know they are valued and appreciated today. I mean no disrespect to those who have already passed.
Also, the following lists are in no particular order. I am writing these Life Builders posts in the order that the Holy Spirit directs me to. I want to stress this point because there are people who are very dear to me who I still haven’t written about. This does not mean I appreciate them any less than anyone else.
The following is the current list of Life Builders posts. This is an ongoing project, something I may never finish.