Love is Not Boastful — A Personal Reflection on A Relationship Where I Could Have Been Boastful

Posted: July 20, 2015 in 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 13 — Continuing on with Paul’s characteristics of love, today we land on one of the characteristics of what love is not. Paul says love is not boastful.

When I think of boasting, I think of Muhammad Ali back in the 70’s. He used his bravado about his boxing skills to intimidate his opponents. He would tell everyone that he was the greatest. He would tell everyone that he was the best boxer there ever has been. The only problem with his boastfulness was that he was right. He was indeed the best boxer in the world during the height of his career. There was no one that had his raw talent, his speed, his agility, and his intelligence in the ring. However, his boastfulness often turned people off. It is one thing to have what it takes to claim that you are the best at something but it is another to let everyone know about it. Another example in a different sort of way is Sheldon Cooper from the television show, The Big Bang Theory. This fictional character is based on people that you and I have encountered in our lives. The brainiac that must let everyone know how smart they are. These brainiac types seem to purposely put others down because others do not have their level of intelligence. They end up being socially marginalized. They end up being picked on. They end up often lonely.

Boastfulness means that we must elevate ourselves and lower the value of others. Boastfulness means that we celebrate our victories as greater than those of others. Boastfulness means that I celebrate your defeats as vindication of my greater value. Boastfulness is the opposite of love.

It is It is ironic that we run across this adjective of what love is not on this morning. Last night, I learned that my first ex-wife passed away yesterday evening. Lisa Gossett was my first wife and is the mother of my children. She was one month shy of being 55 years old. My divorce from her was one of history’s messiest divorces. In the end as the years went by, my children gravitated away from their mother and toward me. My relationship with the girls has strengthened and strengthened while their relationship with their mother had weakened and weakened. Lisa had become over the years a difficult person to deal with. I struggled under the weight of my relationship with her until the breaking point. Each of my daughters over the years had learned the same weightiness. The first thing that I could have done when each child declared their independence from her (Meghan in 2000 and Taylor last year) was to boast of victory in this long struggle with Lisa’s consumption with herself. However, over these 22 years since the end of that marriage, I may have once boasted. I was once consumed by anger over ever retaliatory act. For my own sanity, I had to let go of the anger. Distance and time helped me let go. Anger gave way to non-descriptness, non-feeling toward her. With my salvation in December 2000 and the very slow spiritual maturity that came afterwards, I had learned to forgive even when forgiveness was not returned. Anger became non-description feelings of nothing. Non-descript feelings of nothing became pity. She was after a child of God troubled by a difficult life before I met her as a teenager. The difficulties of her early life with the death of her father in a car accident which left her mother in a wheelchair and then the death of her brother when he was 22 and she was 19 was certainly much for anyone to bear. I could have boasted at what she let her life become. I could have boasted but pity and respect simply for being a child of God takes its place. I could have boasted that the girls were closer with me than her. But what would that have gained. Lisa for all her faults is a child of God. I am not claiming to be a saint here. The Holy Spirit reveals new warts in my character to me daily. But I know the Holy Spirit does change things in a man’s soul by my reactions to my ex-wife these years since my salvation. I could have boasted. It was replaced by concern for Lisa simply because she was the mother of my children. I have come full circle over these past 22 years since Lisa and I broke up for good in 1993. I can say now that I did once love her. I can say that I felt sorry for her for what she let her life become. I can say that I thank her for giving me the two daughters that only she and I could have produced. Two unique individuals and beautiful souls and sweethearts of daughters called Meghan and Taylor. And I can say that I did care about Lisa. Not to the point that we were great friends but because she was the mother of my children and because we shared life together from 1976, when we started dating as young teenagers, until we split in 1993. Boastfulness could have been my mode of operation as her relationship with our daughters grew weaker and mine with them grew stronger. Boastfulness would have only served to fuel the fire. In my relationship with Lisa, I thank God for the Holy Spirit having come live in my heart. He keeps prodding me to forgive, to love, to be generous toward the faults of the others while working on my many faults and my daily grieving of Him.

Being a Christ follower who is characterized by love demands that we do not heap coals on conflict. Boastfulness puts one person down in an attempt to raise up another. Love gives us eyes to see others as troubled souls. Boastfulness causes us to step on people’s weak points. Love gives us eyes to see and consider the path that others walk. Love allows us to see that even though others sometimes bring things upon themselves, we do not have to always capitalize on their inability to see what they are doing. Love allows us to simply care for others because they are children of God. Boastfulness is pride in action. Pride never reconciled any relationship. May we be a people that do not have to claim victory through boasting. May we see each person regardless of what they have done to us as having value in God’s eyes. May we see those who have hurt us in the past as not the owners of us to whom we must get payback to have freedom. We must lay our wounds at the cross and simply let Jesus deal with it and change us. May we be a people who allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to love instead of boast. May we be a people that can find good in those who have hurt. May we be a people who give up that moment of planting the flag of victory over another in pride for the handshake of forgiveness. May we be like Jesus on the cross forgiving those who persecuted Him. On the third day, He arose but did He boast in his ultimate victory. No. His concern was for the souls of mankind. He sent us the Holy Spirit and gave us a commission. We are to love God and love others and we are to make disciples. There was no boasting only loving. That is the example I must follow and you must follow.

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