What do we crave? What do we hunger for? What do we each seek?
Are we self-serving in our search for these things? Is our attitude gimmee, gimmee, gimmee?
If love seeks not its own, then it is not selfish, self-serving, self-centered, insisting on its own way, or pursuing selfish advantage.
Love, as the 1 Corinthians 13 passage says in verse 4, “does not parade itself” (NKJV) or “vaunteth itself” (KJV). It is not puffed up. With a swelled head or heart, an inflated sense of self-importance (which we saw in an earlier post, here, in case you missed it).
Love is the opposite, or enemy, of selfishness. It does not seek its own popularity, praise, profit, prestige, or promotion.
Yes, we are to love ourselves. With a reasonable amount of love.
There are times, though, when putting one’s self first is necessary. To take some needed rest. To back out of too many activities. To take care of oneself in whatever way. Yes, one must love oneself, but how much?
However, if I am filled with too much love for myself, I have no room in my heart to love God. I will not fulfill the great commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37 NKJV) And I will also not fulfill the command Jesus said was second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39 NKJV)
If we desire to be Christ-followers, Jesus tells us, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24 NLT)
Following Jesus does not include selfishness; it should not be part of our character. If we desire that others see Jesus in us, what is evident about our character? Paul said, “Now the works of the flesh are evident,” (Gal. 5:19a NKJV) are apparent, external, known, visible. And these works include selfish ambitions.
That which we should exhibit to others is the fruit of the Spirit, which includes love. And that love-fruit overflows in generosity to others.
If we desire to be like Jesus, are we truly generous?
How can we be generous? Money is not the measure of generosity. Generosity flows out of a heart of love, seeking the welfare of others first, sacrificing one’s comfort, time, resources, and ease, to advance the welfare of others.
Paul wrote, “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.” (Phil. 2:3-4 NKJV)
Real love, said Matthew Henry, “never seeks its own to the hurt of others, or with the neglect of others. It often neglects its own for the sake of others; prefers their welfare, and satisfaction, and advantage, to its own.”
A heart filled with agape love seeks to be generous in sharing that godly love with others. Therefore…