Love Does Not Seek Its Own

Of all the phrases that Paul uses to describe love in 1 Corinthians 13, perhaps none better sums it up than the declaration that love “does not seek its own” (verse 5).

Selfishness and personal pride can be found at the root of every kind of wickedness. So it shouldn’t surprise us to find so much unhappiness in our society, where nearly everything is geared toward fulfilling selfish interests. Americans are almost obsessed with our personal rights, and it’s making us miserable. As William Barclay observed, “It would be the key to almost all the problems which surround us today, if men would think less of their rights and more of their duties.” And our chief duties, Jesus reminds us, are to our Creator and all those made in His image (Mark 12:28-31).

Despite all its hype to the contrary, our world places little real value on serving others. In contrast, the Spirit of God implores us in the gospel to look beyond ourselves, get outside of ourselves, and learn to become servants. We are all slaves to something—either sin or righteousness (Romans 6:16-23). Pride deludes us into thinking we’re in control of our own lives, when in reality we’re slaves to sin. Love, on the other hand, is happy to be a slave to righteousness. The one who loves knows that he is not his own, but belongs to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Love takes a genuine interest in the well-being of those around it. It serves others, not self. It sacrifices freely to meet their needs—especially when those needs are spiritual. Love imitates the Master who washed His disciples’ feet (John 13); who “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45); who “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant” (Philippians 2:6-7); who “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).