Love Does Not Dishonor Others
There are some of the items in Paul’s list of virtues of love in 1 Cor. 13:4-8 that we just have to speculate as to why they are there, but when Paul says love does not boast and is not puffed up, we don’t have to guess as to why he includes them. In chapter 1, Paul challenges their arrogant boasting about their spiritual and social standing compared to one another. In chapters 3 and 4, he confronts their sectarian divisions over who is in the right circle following the best leader. In chapters 12-14, he corrects their misappropriation of spiritual gifts when they are used mostly to show off and build up the individual, regardless of whether others are helped or hurt by their actions.
So what is the solution? For one thing, when we boast, we boast in the Lord and that which Jesus represents. Yet love takes us a step further. Love moves the focus beyond us to others. Paul says in 8:1 that there are certain approaches to faith and knowledge that’s all about being puffed up, “but love builds up.”
Love compels us to look for ways to bless and build up others. Love turns us into a people who are looking for and highlighting the good in others. For far too long, Christians in general and some people connected to Churches of Christ in particular, were known as society’s fault finders. Too many Christians took it on themselves to puff themselves up by tearing others down and pointing out their faults and failures. We should leave the sin conviction business up to the Spirit. We’re in the salvation proclamation business. We are in the good news sharing, love showing business. I want to develop a new reputation. We humble ourselves and we exalt others. We are confessional concerning our shortcomings and complimentary of others’ successes.