“Love does not brag” (1 Cor. 13:4).
Love exalts others; pride exalts self.
Most of us shy away from people who have an inflated view of themselves or place themselves at the center of every conversation. Yet perhaps you too struggle with the temptation to spend most of your conversations talking about yourself. Even if you would never openly brag about yourself, might you at times secretly resent others for not acknowledging your accomplishments? That’s the subtlety of pride.
Boasting always violates love because it seeks to exalt itself at the expense of others—to make itself look good while making others look inferior. It incites jealousy and other sins. Sadly, boasting exists even in the church. That’s why Paul exhorted us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, “but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). The context of that statement is spiritual gifts, which can lead to pride if not governed by humility and love.
The Corinthians were spiritual show-offs—each vying for attention and prominence. Consequently their worship services were chaotic. First Corinthians 14:26 says, “When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.” Apparently they all were expressing their spiritual gifts at the same time with no regard for anyone else. That’s why Paul concluded, “Let all things be done for edification.”
Their lack of love was obvious because people who truly love others don’t exalt themselves. They regard others as more important than themselves, just as Christ did when He humbled Himself and died for our sins (Phil. 2:3-8).
Boasting about our spiritual gifts is absurd because we did nothing to earn them. They don’t reflect our capabilities; they reflect God’s grace. That’s why Paul asked the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7). That applies to physical capabilities as well as spiritual enablements. Everything you have is a gift from God. Therefore, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31).