Hi, this is Pastor Ken, thanks for joining me for my Monday Marriage Message today. As we continue to identify the attributes and characteristics of love according to 1 Corinthians 13 the next quality of love that we find in verse 5is that…love does not seek its own.
All of these identifiers of love in this chapter are important. It is more than necessary that we learn what each means and strive to excel at each of them if we are to rightly love our spouse, our family and the others around us we are in relationship with. This property though not more important than the others, has an effect on each of the other characteristics of love. I have often said that selflessness is the only atmosphere that supports the life of love. Conversely, selfishness sucks the air out of the room that love is intended to thrive in and will in short order harm and eventually kill love altogether. This is easy to recognize when selfishness abounds most or all of the time. Where the damage becomes more difficult to discern and therefore more dangerous is when selfishness is turned on and off repeatedly.
According to Webster’s dictionary self-seeking is defined as the act or practice of selfishly advancing one’s own ends and seeking only to further one’s own interests. Seeking one’s own is clearly selfish ambition. Real love, true love will never allow for personal interest to be placed ahead of the interest of others. Love that seeks its own is in fact self-love, egocentrism or narcissism.
The original Greek phrase used that we translate in English to seek its own is Zetei ta heautes ([zay-teh-o] [ho] [how-to]) and literally it means to search out the best for self. Again here we definitely see the connotation of selfishness.
Scripture gives us the following admonitions about selfishness. Philippians 2:3-4 says, Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. If we are to love others as we are supposed to we must keep a close eye on our motives. Selfish motivation will devalue any words or actions said or done under the guise of love. Conversely if our motivation is humility, those same words and actions will produce a response to love, because they will be seen and accepted as loving words and or deeds. 1 Corinthians 10:24 reiterates this message, Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. 1 John 3:17 says, But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him how does the love of God abide in him? The form of selfishness eluded to here is if I have something someone needs and I will not give it to them but rather, keep it for myself even if I don’t need it, the love of God isn’t in me. This raises an interesting question. If my spouse needs love and in selfishness I withhold it from them, am I choosing to act in opposition to God’s love? Hebrews 13:16 says But do not forget (overlook the need to) do good and share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Galatians 6:2 says Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the Law of Christ. Selflessness identifies our desire to be good followers of Christ and good conduits of His love.
Real love, true love, agape love does not seek its own. You might remember that a few weeks ago in my podcast entitled Love Does, Love Does Not I made the statement that Agape is the form of love that keeps the others acting as they should. You’ll also remember that Agape love is godly love whereas Phileo is brotherly or familial love and Eros is passionate or erotic love. It is easy to see that Phileo love could be self-serving if it were the only love but Agape keeps it in check. It does not take hardly any imagination at all to see that Eros could easily be misused to meet selfish desire without the presence of Agape love. Agape is the form of love that keeps the others acting as they should.
Questions to answer:
Have you ever experienced being the recipient of love that was seeking its own?
What did that experience feel like from your perspective?
What checks and balances can you put in place to make sure selfish ambition is not a part of the love you show toward others?
Actions to take:
Have a judgment-free conversation with your spouse and identify any areas the two of you see “love” that is self-seeking either between yourselves or toward the two of you from some outside source.
Pray and ask God to help the two of you deal with that situation in a healthy and godly way.
So now, making sure there is no selfish ambition sabotaging the love you are attempting to show others…Go be Awesome!