It is written:
1 Corinthians 13:5-(love)…does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
Paul teaches us here that love “does not seek its own.”
What does this mean?
Consider some different translations of this phrase:
Love….“takes no thought for itself” (Bible In Basic English)
Love…“does not insist on its own way (English Standard Version)
Love…”does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking” (Amplified)
All of these translations are bearing out the same basic truth: love is not going to be selfishly demanding its’ own way.
When Paul wrote this to the Corinthians, this was a huge problem in the church! There were many members who were insisting that things in the church had to go EXACTLY the way that THEY wanted! In the minds of these folks, there could be no compromise; there could be no middle ground.
Whether it was on the issue of party allegiance (1 Corinthians 1:10-13), prominent members publicly involved in sexual sin and daring anyone to speak up (1 Corinthians 5; 6:9-11), brothers going to court with brothers over trivial matters (1 Corinthians 6:1-7), women in the church wanting to callously reject their cultural standard of clothing and thus declaring themselves somehow “liberated” (does this sound familiar? -1 Corinthians 11), it all came down to the same thing: people selfishly holding to the way that THEY wanted things to be, even to the detriment of others.
Don’t we live in a culture just like that?
Do we not constantly see people boldly discussing “My rights?”
Now, there are times when we should stand up for “our” rights. There is a time and a place for that. Even Paul shows us that by defending his ministry to the Corinthians in the light of the false allegations made against him, and when he defends the rights of preachers to be married and to be paid for their full-time service in the Lord’s work (1 Corinthians 9:1-15).
However, there is also a time to surrender our rights for the sake of the greater good. There are times when we must do what Paul counseled the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 6:7-…Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
Yes, you read that correctly!
There are times when we should allow ourselves to suffer wrong.
There are times we should let ourselves be cheated.
There are times when we must be willing to sacrifice “my rights” for the furtherance of the greater good.
How do we know when we should surrender our rights, or when we should stand up for them?
Well, Paul gives us a clue right here in this passage, doesn’t he? If we are fighting for our rights out of self-centered goals and ambitions, then that isn’t right. The way of Christ is better than that!
If, on the other hand, we are surrendering our rights for the well-being and betterment of others, for the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ- isn’t that what the way of Christ is all about?
Isn’t that the Example that Jesus Himself has set for us?
1 Peter 2:21-25-For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
How different the way of Christ is from the way of the world!
How superior is the way of Christ to the way of the world!
How many marriage conflicts could be settled if more spouses tried to apply this aspect of love?
How many broken friendships could be salvaged if people were willing to surrender selfishness for selflessness?
How many church conflicts could be resolved if this tenant of love were embraced and applied more adamantly and more vigorously?
One last point here folks.
I have had people tell me that the way of Christ is for wimps and weaklings.
That just ins’t true.
One young man that I know and love turned to paganism and told me quite often how he believed that Christians are devoid of strength, character, and courage.
Well, I would argue that it takes greater strength, character, and courage to strive to learn and live this lifestyle of love that Christ Jesus calls us to, then to just live a life of selfishness and hatred.
After all, anyone can go out and kill their enemy!
But how many are willing to love their enemy?
That is what Christ calls his people to learn and to live.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.