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December 19, 2023

What Love Is Not

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.

–1 Corinthians 13:4

We can think of 1 Corinthians 13 as a checklist for what true love ought to look like in our lives. After mentioning two things true love is, Paul listed some characteristics that love is not. First of all, “love . . . is not jealous” (v. 4). When we think of jealousy, we think of possessiveness. Let’s say you see your mate talking to an attractive member of the opposite sex in a way that makes you uncomfortable. When you voice your displeasure over it, your mate might say, “Oh, you are just being jealous.”

That is not what Paul was talking about here. If you love somebody, you are going to be possessive. You realize there are certain emotions and certain actions that ought to be reserved for you because of the relationship you have with that person. In fact, the Bible says God is a jealous God. There are emotions He wants us to reserve for Him and Him alone. No, in this verse, “jealous” refers to being covetous. It means you desire what somebody else has, and you also wish they did not have it.

Remember, jealousy was the root of the very first murder. Cain killed his brother, Abel, because Abel had offered a sacrifice that was accepted by God. Abel had a closer relationship with God, and Cain was jealous of that. That is the opposite of real love. True agape love rejoices over what other people have instead of resenting it.

Second, “love does not brag and is not arrogant” (v. 4). The King James Version says love “is not puffed up.” And commentator William Barclay put it this way: “[Love] is not inflated with its own importance.”

Winston Churchill reportedly had an argument with his valet. Afterward, he said to the man, “You were rude.” The manservant replied, “You were rude too.” Churchill paused for a moment and then said, “But I am a great man.” Now, that is arrogance!

Any time you feel puffed up with your own importance, I encourage you to revisit 1 Corinthians 4:7. Paul said, “Who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” You might say, “Nobody handed me my career. I am a self-made person.” Who gave you the strength to get up every morning and accomplish what you did? True humility is realizing that anything good we have in life is the result of what either God or other people have done for us. Love is not arrogant.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Love Connection” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

William Barclay, “The Letters to the Corinthians,” The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002), 137; William Churchill, as quoted in William Manchester, “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932” (New York: Bantam, 2013), 25.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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