“Love Does Not Seek Its Own Interests”
1 Corinthians 13:5
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.5 Part 2 Love does not seek its own
1 Corinthians 13:5. As I was searching for a personal illustration for the topic this morning….that love does not seek its own… I had a talk with the family on Friday morning. And I was talking about how selfishness is a very sneaky sin. We often do not know when we are being selfish.
And I said that we can be selfish about just about anything. “Dad, what about the trash can? Can you be selfish about the trash can?” “Yes, I don’t want to take the trash out.” Or “Dad, can you be selfish about the ____________ or the _______________.” Yes!
Selfishness can be a part of everything that we do! From the very beginning of life, we are self-centred. There is a good reason for that. You need know if an infant is hungry! And the parent needs to care! “Every time I feed the child, the child stops crying!”
Unfortunately, without proper guidance, children learn quickly that if they grumble and complain, they get their way. That has to be broken asap.
Paxton by far was our most demanding child. Like any child, he wants his own way. He wanted to nurse when he wanted to nurse. Today, if he eats with a bowl, he has to eat with a spoon not a fork, even if it’s spaghetti. He didn’t want dad to take the wrapper off the cupcake. So he throws a fuss.
When do I get the most triggered, to use a modern term? When is it? When a brother or sister is in sin or may even seem to be leaving the fold? Or when I can’t do what I want to do tonight?
So we’re talking this morning from verse 5, that “love does not seek its own.” And so of course the problem with selfishness is that it is totally contrary to love. Love is not selfish. Selfishness…it’s so sneaky …. we can barely detect it sometimes. It’s like a toad in the mud. It’s his home. Try to tell him it’s bad and that it’s a big deal, good luck.
But that is our task this morning: “Love does not seek its own interests, but sacrificially serves others.”
Now, I suppose that in one way, we are to seek our own interests. Part of the great commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. And how can we love others if we do not love ourselves?
And the answer that of course is that the great commandment assumes that we love ourselves. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” You already love yourself.
There are very few individuals who need to be told to actually love themselves. You care for your body, you try to make yourself feel better when you are sad in one way shape or form.
But were not to love ourselves only. Instead, we must take serious steps to love others and not put ourselves first.
Philippians 2:4 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
“Love does not seek its own interests, but love sacrificially serves others.”
It is interesting that it says “love does not seek its own.” We know this refers to selfishness, but the Holy Spirit put it here in terms of what you seek. You seek every day. You can all too easily seek your own ways, your own desires, your own pursuits. You seek. Love does not seek its own. What are you seeking every day?
Jesus said …. John 5:30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Would that we were like Jesus seeking the will of the Father, not pursuing our own will.
“Love does not seeks its own.”And so we ask, “love does not seek its own what?” And the answer to that is that it is somewhat open-ended. Love does not seek its own blank.
Love does not seek its own interests, its own ambitions, desires, happiness, honour, praise, or prosperity.
“Interest” is a general term and that would suffice. Love does not seek its own interests.
And of course the Corinthians were having trouble with this. Paul has to tell them back in chapter 10:24, “let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”
Back in chapter 10, Paul just got done discussing how the believers in Corinth were taking advantage of their liberty and offending others’ conscience when they had opportunity to eat meat offered to idols.
They were flaunting their liberty and causing the conscience of their brother to stumble and to go against his conscience… someone whose conscience told him not to eat it would then eat that meat that his conscience was telling him not to eat.
For those whose conscience told him he could eat it, there is clearly a greater principle at work than getting to eat meat. It was the principle of love. Am I going to seek my own way and cause my brother to stumble? Or, am I going to look out for his interests first and care for him?
Love is often the greater issue than the big issues that may be bothering you.
But you understand how it would’ve been extremely difficult for them to see that. They could be thinking, “I have the liberty to eat this meat! It tastes good!” “Yes, ok, ‘tis true. But there’s something greater at stake here. Can you not see that? The love of your brother!
This comes to play in our time. There is a brother who is sinking and needs your … specifically…your help. And you think to yourself, “But I don’t have time…or this other thing or this thing.” Loving your brother in Christ, loving your sister in Christ is likely more important than that! Think Bible thoughts, the greatest commandment, “Love God, love others.”
We can all too easily seek out our own interests … to the neglect of others’ interests.
ILL: All too often, our view of the word love is that it’s something I use for my own pleasure. Cupid comes to mind. In Greek mythology Cupid is pictured as having a bow and arrow. And the one who is struck with his arrow longingly desires to be with his love interest.
That kind of love is a consuming love. It is a kind of love that uses someone else for their own pleasure.
ILL: Cupid can also strike when we’re traveling. Someone on board a flight suffered a severe asthma attack and the flight is diverted.
After making the unexpected landing, an irate passenger made a beeline toward the flight attendants treating the sick passenger and demanded they take off immediately.
“This is ruining my vacation,” screamed the passenger. When she refused to return to her seat, she was expelled from the flight.
“The best part was all of the cheering as she was escorted off, still cursing and resisting, despite being handcuffed after spitting in the face of one of the officers,” remembers one of the passengers.
Selfishness. How did she get that way? She has something in her sin nature that causes her to respond to influence of her upbringing and her culture.
ILL: There was a study done by the Association for Psychological Science that determined that we are more focused on ourselves today then we were 200 years ago. The study analyzed the words used in books that people were reading. Of course, people read books because they are interested in them and they reflect their values. For example, the concept of give was much, much higher in books in the 1800s then the concept of get. But the chart shows how eventually they cross and since the 1940s, the concept of getting is growing and today it is much higher than is the concept of giving in the books that we read. [limit detail?]
Our culture, and the books that we so often choose to read, are teaching us to seek our own. And that of course does not include television and radio and the Internet.
ILL: Advertising by its very nature is focused on you and they are trying to get you to buy it! If folks from the marketing firm Yankelovich, Inc. are right, the average modern person per day is exposed to about…. how many ads per day, do you think? 5,000! Astronomical!
You want this. You should get this. Purchase this. You deserve to get this. Get, get get!
Your world is constantly telling you to get get get! To seek your own!
And I have just 45 minutes this week out of the average of 35,000 ads to tell you that you shouldn’t get, get, get…but give give give!
“Love does not seek its own interests, but sacrificially serves others.”
And selfishness has even carried over into a church philosophy of ministry. In many churches today, the gospel is presented as what God can do for me. Trust God and he will make you rich. Believe in Christ and all of your troubles will melt away. Call upon the Lord to be saved and watch all of your relationships be healed. Health wealth and prosperity promised at every turn in much of today’s church life.
It is a gospel of selfishness.
“I can recognize that, easy enough,” you say.
ILL: But our lives can be inherently selfish and we give little thought to it. It’s like we’re eating jelly on our toast at our kitchen tables and so we believe we must be in a jelly factory. Delirious.
Because Jesus saves me, it must mean that He gives. Great, good for Him! And we go about our own lives. But we’ve missed it. We go about our day, we use, we consume, but how much of our time is spent giving, serving even other Christian people at our own expense and actually putting others’ interests above our own? Very little.
Delirious. We’ve all too often bought into the consumer, me-first culture.
If you’ve tasted that the Lord is good, instead of getting and getting, you’ll be giving and giving.
And so are you in a spiritual delirium, unwilling to get out of the delusion of your own selfishness?
“Love does not seek its own interests, but sacrificially serves others.”
ILL: The world doesn’t revolve around me. But so often I operate like it does!
ARG: That’s why Jesus teaching in Matt 5:38-42 is so contrary to my nature… We are supposed to turn the other cheek, those who sue us for some, give them even more. When the government has unreasonable demands, go the extra mile. Whoever asks from you, loan. Love your neighbor and love your enemy.
So how would you know if you’re selfish?
Do you find sharing and giving difficult? Your pursuit hits head on with somebody else’s pursuit. Do you yield? Are you scared to show any weakness or vulnerability? Do you refuse to accept constructive criticism? Do you believe that you deserve______ ? Are you willing to listen to those who do not agree with you? Do you find yourself too often criticizing others behind their backs? Do you exaggerate your achievements in front of others?
Someone calls you with a need while you’re watching your favorite movie. What do you do?
ILL: Jonathan Edwards was the famed New England preacher of the 1700s … his dad was also a pastor, Timothy Edwards. And he recounted how he would lose his salary if he said something the congregation didn’t like. But he would still preach from week to week. “In 1705 he expressed appreciation for receiving his salary while noting that he was still owed salary for 1703 and 1704.”
No one could say he was selfish.
That’s not the only way churches can be selfish. We can demand our own way without regard for God’s truth. We could become focused on the building or overly focused on programs to the neglect of the gospel. And we can be selfish about the truth and fail to spread it to others.
TRANS: Naturally, seeking our own interests to the neglect of others can be very damaging.
1. Selfish pursuits become damaging in the church when we don’t serve others fail to do the one another passages. If for selfish how can we comfort from one another?
We need to fellowship with one another the hospitable to one another. For selfish we won’t admonish one another or bear one another’s burdens. How can we pray for one another or accept one another in Christ or show tolerance for one another or forgive one another? Selfishness keeps us from following the Bible and reaching out to others as we’re supposed to.
And then we won’t grow as we should, we’ll fail to encourage each other, and so our church will be self-centred.
2. Not only will I fail to serve others, but my selfish pursuits will harm them. I’ll lash out when I don’t get my way. When my way is crossed, look out.
3. And that will cause division, rivalry, strife, bitterness, and Christ will be dishonored.
TRANS: So how do we combat this? The opposite of selfish pursuit is denying self.
And denying self is the first response to the gospel. Allow me to show you that…at the end of Mark 8. Verse 34… Denying self, which is the opposite of selfish pursuit, is the very first response to the gospel.
Mark 8:34 34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
That’s a response to the gospel. Someone who wants to follow Jesus, he seeks eternal life for his soul, the response is… denying self.
That comes out in repentance. “I’m turning on myself, my sin, my shame, my will … in a word, I’m turning against…me! I deny self, I reject me in favour of Christ!
Coming to Christ demands that we deny self and cling to the cross. When I came to Christ I had to recognize that it is no longer I who reigns upon the throne of my heart. I came to Christ, I had to understand that I could no longer choose sin and choose self over Jesus. I deny myself for the sake of Jesus glory in my life. I no longer demand my own way, but I demand instead that Jesus have his way!
So the work of the gospel in my heart is crucial to me being able to deny myself and not seek after my own interests and then to sacrificially serve others.
When we first trusted Christ and denied self, the Bible says our old self was crucified with him. When Jesus died on the cross when I trusted in him by his grace, I died with him.
Just as it is in salvation, it also is that way in my everyday life, that I lay aside my old self which is corrupt.
I die daily, I’m a living sacrifice, I take up the cross daily… This is self-denial. The Holy Spirit’s reality for my life then is that I do not seek my own way!
Oh, my own way! “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.” Why would I want my own way? These motives these desires this pursuit of mine should constantly be questioned and examined in the light of God’s word will for my life.
Know yourself to be dead indeed to sin and self and then share your time with others, be willing to be hurt by others so that they may be bettered for Christ’s sake. When it’s so much easier to be by yourself, give to others by serving them.
And serve… Volunteer, get involved, do things not just because you get some temporal benefit, but spend your life and your energies in such a way that only the Lord could reward you.
Paul gives a striking testimony about Christian people even in the first century over in his letter to the Philippians in chapter 2. And he writes there in verse 19 to 21 that he hopes to send Timothy to the Christians in Philippi because he says he has no one else of kindred spirit who would genuinely be concerned for their welfare.
No one else, Paul? No, in fact he goes on to say in verse 21 for they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.
The Christian people that Paul knew all sought after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. All of them. The ones that he knew and were close to, he knew they would not be genuinely concerned for the welfare of the Philippians. None, except for Timothy.
What a testimony! It’s sad … may it be said of us that I could genuinely be concerned for the welfare of others…
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.5 Part 2 Love does not seek its own
And if ever there was a man who knew selfless living, it was Jesus Christ!
Romans 15:3 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”
He suffered … He suffered personal injury, mocking, and scorn from those He came to save. Yet He didn’t return evil for evil or insult for insult, but gave a blessing instead … He spilled His precious blood for their eternal salvation.
And suffered passionately … He set His face hard, like a flint, to go to Jerusalem to purposefully die on a cross. He didn’t waver ….
He prays in the garden, “not my will, but thine be done.” He forsook any fleshly way and sought to die for the glory of the Father. He suffered heroically. He sacrificially served others to the point of giving his life! And He gave His life, and not just for atonement but for an example …
2 Corinthians 5:15 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
Christ heroically didn’t serve Himself or seek His own interests, but came to save lives, to protect, and to deliver us from ourselves. And that example He set is meant to change us too. He died for us…why? That we would no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again for us.
Out of appreciation for His sacrifice, sacrifice yourself for Him and others. What is in His word, I want to do it. I will seek to examine my life by the Word of God and will seek His will, not mine, and will see to glorify Him, not seek my own will.
“Love does not seek its own interests, but sacrificially serves others.”
140 At the Cross