1 Corinthians 13:4 also says charity "...is not puffed up." Webster's dictionary says the word "puff" means "to swell, to inflate, to blow up; as puffed up with pride, vanity or conceit; to puff up with praise of flattery." My KJV Study Bible says the word means "arrogant." 1 Corinthians 8:1 uses the word too, "...we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." When someone gains an understanding of something which others do not possess, it will often result in them being puffed up, or thinking they are superior to others. This is not how charity behaves. Charity does not seek to promote self, but seeks to edify, or build up, others.
Notice how else charity behaves: "...charity vaunteth not itself..." vs. 4. My KJV study bible says this phrase means "doeth not brag on," and Mr. Webster says the word vaunt means "to boast, to make a vain display of ones worth...or overvalue what he is." The Greek word which is translated "vaunt" is not used anywhere else in the N. T. However, the English word is found one other time in the Old Testament. Judges 7:2 says, "And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me." Notice God did not want to give Israel the victory with such a large army because, if He did, they would conclude it was because of their own strength and abilities. All too often we human beings have a tendency to "vaunt" ourselves, or think more highly of ourselves than we should. Perhaps that is why Romans 12:3 says, "For I say...to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think..." So, what are we to think of ourselves? Luke 13:1-5 and Romans 3:23 say we are sinners deserving to perish (i.e. die). Isaiah 64:6 says, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." And Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." Modern marketing often says, "You deserve it!" But in reality, we deserve hell. The Bible also teaches that we are not to search out our own glory, "It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory," Proverbs 25:27. And Proverbs 20:6 says, "Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" In spite of these verses, men go about today trying to create a legacy for themselves. It appears most of what people say is an attempt to exalt themselves. Women bask in their womanhood, men bask in their manhood, stupid people bask in their ignorance and smart people bask in their intellect. We love to tell people we get up early, stay up late, work hard, preach long, etc. We should instead focus our attention on the needs of others and lift them up, because this is how love behaves.
Notice one way charity behaves according to 1 Corinthians 13:4 "...charity envieth not." When we think of the word envy, we normally associate it with wanting someone else’s material possessions. However, the meaning is much broader than that. Have you ever been bothered when someone else is complimented or been upset when they are honored? Have you ever possessed inner turmoil when someone else is praised or promoted? If you had these types of feelings, it was likely due to you not being the one who was praised or honored? This is envy. Recall that Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery out of envy. They envied the favor their father showed to him. Romans 12:15 admonishes us to rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with them that weep. Do not envy the good fortune of your neighbor, but rejoice with him. If you love someone, you should be happy when good things happen to them, not envious.
Shepardsville Baptist Church, P. O. Box 68, Shepardsville, IN. 47880 - (765) 832-8259