"Love never gives up. Love cares for others more than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always 'me first', doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end."
~1 Corinthians 13:4-7
When I read this small section of the passage, one issue jumps out at me ~ pride. I know from reading and studying God's word that He isn't a fan of pride. I want to get a clearer understanding of why it's such an affront to Him. Could it have something to do with this thing called agape love?
Why does God speak so strongly against pride? Maybe because pride exalts ourselves above God. This isn't about His ego. He knows the dangers that come with the territory. Don't you stand against the things that put your kids in danger and unnecessary risk? I do! Is God any less of a loving parent than we are? "Pride goes before the fall" is a warning to us. We are wise to heed it. But to heed it, we have to understand it.
If I am filled with pride, boasting about who I am or what I have accomplished, I am squelching the essence of who God is ~ agape love. I am making it all about me and how wonderful I am, and I am trying to impose that view onto others. In the process, I am actually encouraging people to take their focus and their praise off of God and put it squarely onto me. Ugh.
Who hasn't been there? Who hasn't felt puffed up with pride for a project completed, a mountain climbed, a hurdle conquered? It's okay to feel good about ourselves and celebrate our victories. But if that's all it is ~ Me-centered ~ then we've crossed the line into pride, a dangerous terrritory.
But what happens if I can replace the Me-centered with God-centered? First of all, I see how small and insignificant my greatest achievements are next to the One who created and breathed life into me. Secondly, I begin to see my value in who I am as God's child, and I realize I don't have to strive to measure up. I am already extravagantly loved and accepted. When that truth begins to sink in, I can put to death my own platforms and self-praises and open my heart up to agape love.
Have you ever been around someone like this? I have, more than once. Wow...it's contagious! They don't have to pressure me to move into their camp. I am dazzled just by watching them. There's no need to force themselves or their lifestyles on me. In fact, they can't. It goes in opposition to who they are. These people who already reside in AGAPE know something that I don't. They also know that I have to find my own way to my new residence. They shine like streetlights, enabling me to get a better view of what awaits me. But they know I already have the Perfect Guide, and so they wait patiently for my arrival, ready to welcome me into my new life on AGAPE Lane. And here's the best part ~ ALL ARE INVITED AND WELCOME!
"Love unlocks doors and opens windows that weren't even there before."