This article was discussed on Episode 10 of the All Truth Is God’s Truth Podcast recently. This segment starts at 08:29.
Jonathan Edwards said, “Hypocrites. . . first rejoice. . . that they are made so much of by God; and then on that ground he seems, in a sort, lovely to them” (pg. 250 – Source).
Love does not boast (1 Cor. 13:4). Sometimes, Christians live like love is defined as, “I love how much you love me.” Therefore, when a Christian is not feeling loved by a spouse, friend, or fellow Christian, he or she justifies his or her lack of love for the person because his or her love was selfish to begin with. He or she did not love the other person, he or she only loved the person’s love for him or her. In a similar manner, so-called Christians often love God in this way. They love how much God loves them, but the moment He shows them their sin or He lets something “bad” happen to them, they reveal that they really only loved themselves. They only loved how much God loved them, believing He loves them more than He loves Himself, and when they thought he didn’t love them due to the bad thing that happened to them, they revealed that they never loved God to begin with. One cannot boast in oneself as more lovely than God and truly love God at the same time.
Love does not boast (1 cor. 13:4); it exalts God above oneself and it exalts others above oneself. Remember that Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to (1) love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and (2) to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-39). And Jesus lived out these commandments perfectly. When in the Garden of Gethsemane, nearing His betrayal and death due to love for God and His neighbors, He prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). Those that truly love God are willing to prosper and perish for His glory, because they love God for who He is, not for what He gives them.
In order to truly love, to not boast or brag, we must understand who God is and who we are.
We must admit that we are not God, that we are not comparable to Him. We are ever dependent upon God; He is not dependent on us. Our worth comes from Him; His worth does not come from us. He is God, and we are His creatures.
In order to truly love God, we must submit to who God is and who He tells us we are.
It’s not enough to know or to say that we believe God is greater, God is holy, God is love, etc. We must live in such a way that communicates our submission to these realities. If we believe God is God and we’re not, we’ll live like it.
Consider the testimony of “Pistol” Pete Maravich. He was a professional basketball player, a 6’5” guard, from 1970-1980. He played college basketball at Louisiana State University. In his 4 years there, he averaged 44 points per game. This was before there was a 3-point line. His college average is considered unbreakable today.
Maravich had a good pro career, but was forced to leave the game eventually due to a knee injury. When he left the spotlight, he became severely depressed, and lived under severe depression for 2 years. He was no longer exalted by others. But then, he got saved; he became an evangelical Christian.
A few years before his death, he said, “I want to be remembered as a Christian, a person that serves Him [Jesus] to the utmost, not as a basketball player.” He died at age 40 after a pick-up game at a church. It turned out that he was born missing a left coronary artery. He had flown to California to tape a segment for Focus on the Family. James Dobson was there playing in the pick-up game with Maravich. Dobson was asking him questions as he shot baskets, but then Maravich suddenly dropped. He died in Dobson’s arms.
Praise God that Maravich quit boasting in himself as “the best College basketball player of all time.” Praise God that Maravich finally loved God. He finally understood who God was and who he was, and he repented of his sins and trusted in Christ to save him. He finally understood that in order to love God, one must love God more than one loves oneself. And when one loves God, he or she is willing to proper and perish so long as God is glorified.
Do you love God and your neighbors? Or do you really boast in yourself, meaning that you merely love how much God and your neighbors love you?
Loving how much God loves you is not the same as loving God.
*You can watch the ESPN Classic Documentary about “Pistol” Pete here. Dobson is interviewed towards the end about when Maravich passed away.