“Love . . . is not arrogant” (1 Cor. 13:4).
Love is the key to effective ministry.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4 Paul says, “Love does not brag and is not arrogant.” We often equate bragging and arrogance, but in this passage there is a subtle difference. The Greek word translated “brag” emphasizes prideful speech or actions; “arrogant” emphasizes the attitude of pride motivating those actions.
The prideful attitudes of the Corinthians were evident in several areas. In 1 Corinthians 4:18-21 Paul says, “Some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power. . . . What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Cor. 4:18- 21).
Apparently, some thought they no longer needed his instruction. “After all,” they reasoned, “we’ve had the best teachers—Apollos, Peter, and even Paul himself (1 Cor. 1:12)—so what need do we have for more instruction?” The fact was, they had just enough knowledge to inflate their egos, but they were woefully ignorant of love (1 Cor. 8:1).
It was arrogance that led the Corinthian church to condone gross immorality: “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife [incest]. And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst” (1 Cor. 5:1- 2). They were too prideful to confront and correct that situation, so they bragged about it instead. Even pagans wouldn’t tolerate that kind of behavior!
That’s a tragic picture of people so blinded by pride that they refused to discern between good and evil. Consequently, all their spiritual activities were counterproductive. They were gifted by the Spirit and even flaunted their gifts, but lacked the love that transforms a gifted person into an effective minister.
Learn from the Corinthians’ mistakes. Never settle for mere spiritual activities. Let love motivate everything you do. Then God can honor your ministries and make them truly effective for His purposes.
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God to make you a more effective minister and to protect you from the blindness of arrogance.
For Further Study
What do the following proverbs say about pride: Proverbs 8:13; 11:2; and 29:23?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187