Pride is a difficult subject to deal with. Opinions may vary about what is to be considered as evidence of a proud attitude. That is one reason why I started writing on scripture verses where this same word ‘puffed up’ occurs. Only problem is that those who are not acquainted with these passages may find some of my recent posts hard to understand. Also I cannot really deal with all questions that might arise from these bible texts in these brief blog posts. I am merely trying to fathom what this word ‘puffed up’ does mean in other biblical contexts.
We find this word not only in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians but also in his letter to the Colossians. Have a look at Colossians 2:18: ”Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” (KJV).
Paul here is referring to talk about alleged supernatural religious experiences that lead away from the faith in Christ. Perhaps we today would refer to superstitious beliefs.
In the same chapter Paul also refers to certain outward observances such as rules and prohibitions concerning eating and drinking and the considering of certain days as special. Perhaps some who claimed to have had special revelation judged others and commanded them to adhere to the rules they taught. Paul says this could lead to vanity and pride.
Paul’s main thrust in Colossians 2 is to magnify the greatness of Jesus Christ and the benefits of believing in him. Have a look at verses 13 and 14:
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (KJV).
God forgives us and restores us so that we can have peace with God through Jesus Christ. This is wonderful. We rather ought to set our eyes on Jesus than to get sidetracked and vainly puffed up by focussing on unusual experiences or narrow rules.
What does this tell us about the meaning of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13: ‘Love is not puffed up’? The love Paul is referring to is based on God’s forgiveness and on faith in Jesus Christ. He himself produces this love within the believer.
As we stop gazing on Jesus we can get sidetracked. Whenever we begin to focus on our own efforts pride is likely to grow in our hearts.
A Christian ought never to forget that he was saved by grace. Our faith is based on God’s free forgiveness of our sins, not on any of our own efforts or achievements.