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What Does the Bible Mean About ‘love Is Not Self-Seeking?’

The human heart, given full vent to its desires, will always come up with things that would benefit one’s self. When we are threatened, we naturally respond with self-preservation. It is one thing when we defend ourselves or our loved ones from life-threatening situations, but it is another when we resort to lying, cheating, or stealing to find a way out of difficult situations. We don’t teach kids to be selfish, but it comes out naturally. These are all products of our sinful nature, the very reason why David committed adultery, which led him to usurp his authority and commit murder. Selfishness has led many great men to fall at some point or detour from a life of walking with God. When one focuses too much on loving the self, one can easily jeopardize his/her relationship with people and, most importantly, with God.

Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:5, “[love] seeketh not her own (KJV)” or “love does not insist in its own way (ESV).” That means biblical love and selfishness can never coexist. God commanded us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves in Leviticus 19:18. When Jesus came, He gave a new command and said:

“[34] A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. [35] By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another.”

(John 13:34-35 KJV)

He took it beyond loving others based on how one can love self to loving others because of how He selflessly and sacrificially demonstrated His love for us.

To love unselfishly requires humility. We fail to love others when we think too highly of ourselves. Focusing only on one’s own value causes one to degrade others in thoughts, words, and deeds. That is why Paul teaches us in Philippians 2:3-4:

“[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Love without selfishness means that we regard others with great value and uplift them more than we do ourselves.

Christ exemplified a love that is selfless, even to the point of self-sacrifice on the cross. Though we were undeserving of His love and great sacrifice, He died for us anyway. God demonstrated the greatness of His love for us in that even while we were still rebellious against Him, Christ willingly suffered on the cross for our forgiveness and salvation (Romans 5:8). Such love may be impossible for man to do but, through Christ and the fruit of the Spirit, we are enabled to love selflessly. As Christ took joy in our salvation, we must also learn to take joy in it.

“[9] As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. [10] If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. [11] These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. [12] This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. [13] Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. [14] Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

(John 15:9-14 KJV)

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