Summary: When I love like Jesus loves my passion for people prevails over my pride in my position


Several weeks ago I was officiating a volleyball match in a tournament. During one rally I blew my whistle and before I even made my call, one of the players made a comment that indicated he thought the call was going to go against his team. So, in what was certainly not one of my finest moments, I turned to him and snapped “Why don’t you at least wait until I make the call!” In essence what I was really communicating to that player and everyone else who heard me was “I’m the ref here. How dare you question my authority.”


Unfortunately, that is not the first time in my life I’ve used my position in a way that I ended up treating someone else arrogantly or rudely. And my guess is that most of you probably struggle with the tendency to do that, too.

• Men, have you ever misused your position of headship within your marriage to treat your wives like that?

• Parents have you ever used your position of authority to treat your children like that. I won’t ask for a show of hands because I don’t want to embarrass anyone but how many of you parents have ever said something like this to your kids: “Because I’m the parent and I said so!”

• Have any of you ever used your position of authority in the workplace to treat your subordinates arrogantly or rudely?

• Have you ever treated someone who is serving you like that? Maybe someone like the cashier at the grocery store or the server at a restaurant?

If you’ve never done anything like that, then you have my permission to tune out the rest of the message this morning, but if you’re like me and you struggle in that area, then I hope you’ll join me in looking at the life of Jesus and learning how we can love the way He loves – with a love that is not arrogant or rude.


Once again, we’ll begin this morning in 1 Corinthians 13. The next phrase we come to there is this:

…it [love] is not arrogant or rude...

(1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV)

Once again, Paul addresses what love is from a negative perspective – it is not arrogant or rude. Let’s take a moment to define those terms before we move on to the account of how Jesus loves like this.

“arrogant” =

“puffed up”

This verb is derived from the word for an air bellows and it literally means to inflate or blow up. Figuratively it describes someone who has an inflated view of his or her own importance.

“rude” =

“to act improperly”

This verb is derived from a word that literally means “without shape or form”. It means to behave in an ugly, indecent, unseemly or unbecoming manner.

In order to learn more about how Jesus loves in a manner that is not arrogant or rude, we’re going to look at what is probably a familiar passage to many of you. It’s found in chapter 10 of Luke’s gospel:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

(Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

More than likely, if you’ve ever studied or heard a message on this passage, the focus was on Martha and Mary and their behaviors and attitudes. And that is certainly a beneficial way to look at the passage. But this morning, what I want to do is to direct your attention to how Jesus acts here.

As we’ve studied some of these passages that we’re looking at in this series on Monday mornings, one of the things that we’ve found to be really helpful is to try to put ourselves into Jesus’ sandals in these situations and consider how we would tend to respond and compare that to the way Jesus actually reacts. This is a passage where that approach is particularly instructive.

Let’s suppose for a moment that you’re Jesus in this situation. You’re welcomed into her home by Martha. As she is busy trying to be a good hostess, you begin to teach and Mary sits at your feet listening. But before too long, Martha comes up to rebuke you and to give you orders. “Lord, if you really cared about me you surely wouldn’t let her just sit there while I do all the work. Tell her to help me!”

Even though you are God in the flesh, you’ve already humbled yourself in order to violate the cultural customs of the day to enter Martha’s home for the purpose of teaching her and her sister about spiritual matters. Most of the Jewish rabbis would never do that because they thought teaching women was a waste of time. And now here is this lowly woman standing before you telling you what to do. How would you respond if you were in Jesus’ place?

I think that if we’re honest most of us would have been pretty ticked off and we would be arrogant and rude in that situation. I think I would have probably reminded Martha of the fact that I was the Son of God and that she should have been honored to have me in her home. I would have reminded her that as a woman she was privileged to have an influential rabbi like me enter her home and teach her and her sister.

But Jesus didn’t respond like that at all. Although, as we will see in more detail in a moment, He was pretty direct in addressing Martha’s problem. He did that in a very humble and gentle manner. This is one of only 8 times in the Bible where God speaks to someone and calls that person by their name twice. And in every one of those cases, God is about to reveal something very important, so He wants to get that person’s undivided attention.

But, here Jesus speaks those words very tenderly and gently. Although He has something important to say to Martha, He doesn’t want to communicate that in a manner that is in any way arrogant or rude.

So here is how I would summarize what we can learn about loving like Jesus from this passage:

When I love like Jesus loves

my passion for people

prevails over my pride in my position

Once again this week, as we develop some principles that will help us do that more effectively, I’ll be suggesting some action steps that I want to encourage all of us to consider and at the end of the message I’ll ask all of us to pick at least one of those steps and actually put it into practice this week.



1. Don’t “pull rank”

That’s essentially what I did that day in my volleyball match. While I didn’t actually say it out loud, my actions certainly indicated that my attitude was “I’m the ref. You’re merely a player. I outrank you, so we’re going to do things my way.”

Much of the time, when we’re arrogant and rude to people, it’s because we’re pulling rank on them. It’s possible for a husband to do that to his wife or for parents to do that to their kids. I already mentioned the “Because I’m the parent…” response. No doubt this happens frequently in the workplace. And it’s even possible in the church, although I can honestly say I’ve never seen it happen here at TFC. And I hope I’ve made it completely clear that you should never believe or act on something I say merely because I’m the pastor.

Jesus was certainly in a position to pull rank in this situation. Even if we ignore the fact that He was God in the flesh, He certainly outranked Martha in a number of ways. First of all, He was a man and she was a woman and in that culture, that meant that she had absolutely no rights and was merely considered to be the equivalent of one’s property. And His role as a rabbi also gave Jesus a position of authority over Martha. And when Martha addressed Jesus as Lord, she acknowledged that authority over her.

So Jesus certainly could have pulled rank on Martha and said something like, “Martha, how dare you rebuke me. Don’t you know who I am?” But instead, as I’ve already pointed out, He humbled Himself and responded with great gentleness – “Martha, Martha…” even though Martha had done nothing to deserve that kind of gracious response.

We’ve probably all been on the receiving end of someone who has been rude to us because they have pulled rank on us. Perhaps we’ve heard someone say something like “Do you know who I am?” before they proceed with their arrogance and rudeness. And when we hear that, we know that what is about to follow won’t be a pleasant experience.

So let’s just make sure we aren’t the one on the giving end. If you ever begin to think that you’re entitled to be arrogant or rude to someone because you outrank them in some way, stop before you do something that is going to cause lasting hurt. And then respond humbly and gently.

Possible action step:

• Make a list of all my significant relationships – in the home, at work, in the church, and in the community. Use that list to evaluate those relationships for the purpose of carrying out one or more of the suggested action steps this week.

o For those relationships where I am in a position of power or authority, determine where I have “pulled rank” and then make a list of practical steps I can take to restore that relationship. Take at least one of those steps this week.

When I love like Jesus loves

my passion for people

prevails over my pride in my position

And that means I need to avoid the temptation to “pull rank”.

2. Make it about others and not about me

The best officials are the ones who are there for the benefit of the players, coaches and fans, and not to bring attention to themselves. But unfortunately there are a few officials who consistently make the game or match about them. And the players and coaches have come to know who those officials are and they dread it every time one of them comes into the gym.

So I try very hard as an official not to do anything to draw attention to myself. In fact, the way I can be sure I did a good job is that no one even remembers I was there. But my actions in that volleyball match a couple of weeks ago really weren’t very conducive to that.

Jesus could have easily made this encounter with Martha all about Him. But the fact that He was even in Martha and Mary’s house, teaching them about spiritual matters was a good indication that His concern was for them. As I mentioned earlier, Jewish rabbis generally thought that teaching women was a waste of time. And even when women were permitted to learn, it had to be from the back or from the section that was set aside for women and never at the feet of the teacher.

It’s interesting that during that last crucial months of His earthly ministry, Jesus spent much of His time building relationships with people who really couldn’t do a whole lot to further His ministry. He took time to do that for the benefit of others. And Jesus didn’t just build some big church building and do some advertising and expect people to come to Him. He went to where they were, just like He did here by going to the home of Martha and Mary.

And apparently, this was not the last time Jesus spent time with Martha and Mary in order to develop a relationship with them. The next time they are mentioned in the Bible is in John chapter 11 where John writes that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” It seems unlikely that kind of relationship was developed merely from this one visit to their home. That reminds us that even though the task that the Father had given Him was urgent, Jesus was never in too much of a hurry to spend time with people to get to know them better.

We’ll talk more about this in a moment, but we see clearly here that Jesus’ concern is about Martha’s needs. So rather than making this whole encounter about Him, He turns the tables and speaks to Martha about her deepest needs, which had nothing to do with getting her sister to help her with the housework.

I know I’ve shared with you on several occasions that early in my marriage I didn’t apply this principle well at all. And that often caused conflict in our marriage and when that conflict occurred I made the situation even worse because I was more concerned about being right and winning the argument than I was about building the relationship. Fortunately, God has chipped away some of those rough edges so that I don’t do that nearly as often now.

I think all of us have a tendency to make things about us and to try and prove that we’re right in our relationships. That can happen at home, at work, in the church and in the community. And the only antidote to that kind of thinking is to keep in mind that if I want to build the relationship I need to make it about the other person and his or her needs and not about me and my needs. We’ll talk even more about that next week.

Possible action step:

o From my list of relationships, pick at least one of those relationships where I can do something practical to build up the other person this week.

When I love like Jesus loves

my passion for people

prevails over my pride in my position

And if I want to do that I need to make it about the other person and not about me.

3. When necessary, confront without being confrontational

The very nature of the job of an official is to confront people when they violate one of the rules. When I blow my whistle it means that a player or teams has committed some act that is not permitted by the rules of that game. But the very best officials learn how to confront without being confrontational.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do that very well in the example I’ve shared with you this morning. That particular player did need to be addressed for his poor sportsmanship in the way he addressed me as an official. But I could have certainly done a much better job of doing that in a manner that was not so confrontational.

In this encounter, Jesus demonstrates three important principles when it comes to confronting another person.

First, we see that sometimes love does require us to confront another person for their own good. The key phrase there is “for their own good.” I’m afraid that far too often, we’re eager to confront another person because it is somehow going to make us look better by putting the other person down. That’s exactly the kind of attitude the word “arrogant” conveys. But what I’ve found over the years is that if I need to confront someone for their own good, I usually have a sense of reluctance and maybe even a deep sense of pain rather than being eager to do that.

Here Jesus obviously saw that Martha had a deep seated problem that caused her to be frustrated with both her sister and with Jesus. She was anxious and troubled about many things because she failed to recognize the one thing that was necessary in her life was listening to and obeying the words of Jesus. And Jesus didn’t shy away from confronting her about that issue.

The second thing we see here is that it is possible to confront without being confrontational. I’m reminded here of these words from Proverbs:

A soft answer turns away wrath,

but a harsh word stirs up anger.

(Proverbs 15:1 ESV)

As we read this passage we don’t sense any anger at all in Jesus’ response to Martha. His words are direct, yet they are also soft and gentle rather than harsh.

The third thing we see here is that on those occasions when we do need to confront others we need to leave the results to God. In this microwave, fast-food world we want to see immediate results. But the reality is that rarely occurs. We have no evidence here that Martha actually put down the broom and sat at Jesus’ feet along with her sister. And even when we see Martha again in John 11, her faith is far from complete.

As we’ve already seen the last couple weeks with Peter, James and John, most people didn’t really get it during Jesus’ earthly ministry. They didn’t immediately respond in faith when Jesus confronted them. It wasn’t until after the resurrection that they really understood what Jesus had been telling them, and even then it took a while for most of them. But Jesus waited patiently for God to work in their hearts to bring about the needed change in mindset.

Knowing when to confront someone else and then to do that in a non-confrontational manner is really difficult for me and I’m guessing that it’s hard for you, too. It requires being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and much prayer.

Possible action step:

o From my list of relationships, determine if there are any where I need to confront someone out of love for his or her well-being. Develop a plan to do that in a gentle, non-confrontational manner

When I love like Jesus loves

my passion for people

prevails over my pride in my position

That requires that, when necessary, I need to be willing to confront others for their own good, but to do that without being confrontational.


After our Bible study last Monday morning God presented Loren with an opportunity to apply the principles we had been discussing just shortly before that. I won’t give you all the details, but I will tell you that it involved a snake. And, not surprisingly for those of you who know Loren, he went well out of his comfort zone to make a practical application of what we had learned that morning.

I had a similar experience myself this week. It seems like quite often, God tests me to see if I’m going to actually put into practice what I’m preaching on that week and sure enough, on Thursday night I was officiating another volleyball match and a player addressed me in almost the same way the player did a couple weeks ago. I’m happy to report that this time my response was not arrogant and rude like my first encounter.

It seems that God often works like that. He teaches us principles from His Word ant then He almost immediately gives us opportunities to apply what we’ve learned. So, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if God presents an opportunity for you to apply what we’ve learned this morning, perhaps much sooner than you expect. I do know however, that many of you are praying it doesn’t involve snakes.


Because it is not natural for us to love other people like Jesus loves, it is absolutely essential that each one of us take the kind of very intentional, practical steps that I’ve suggested this morning. Those three suggested action steps are by no means the only possible ways to apply what we’ve learned this morning and I’m sure that all of you could come up with at least that many more. So if God puts another way to make a practical application of this message on your heart, by all means go ahead and do that. But please don’t leave here today until you’ve made the commitment to take at least one concrete step this week in response to what you’ve learned this morning knowing that…

When I love like Jesus loves

my passion for people

prevails over my pride in my position