This is to be my second post on love and self-seeking. Writing on this on a merely theoretical basis seems fairly difficult. For this reason I intend to move on to practical application. The first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians has been written to a church. It makes sense to refer to church-life and relationships between Christian believers in this post.
Love “is not self-seeking.” (1 Corinthians 13:5b/NIV). The Greek word translated “seeking” implies looking for something that is hidden. Seeking something requires some effort. “Self-seeking” here therefore leads to a discussion of our main goals rather than of spontaneous reactions.
Earlier on my blog, at a time when hardly anybody was reading my posts I made some introductory remarks concerning chapter 13. In chapter 12 Paul has been describing church life. He mentioned that believers are different from each other. They have various gifts to contribute to the ministry of the church. All these skills and abilities are given by God.
Leading up to chapter 13 Paul encouraged the Corinthians to seek after the best gifts, i.e. to pray for these gifts or to look for appropriate training. Yet Paul says he wants to point to an even better way. Then he presents this somewhat lyric or poetic chapter on love.
In verses 1-3 Paul has mentioned various aspects of church-life saying these were of very limited value if done without love. You can find posts on these verses looking at my archives.
At the end of my discussion of verses 1-3 I published a post called: “Concerning our Contributions to the Ministry of the Church”. I suggested my readers to make a list of all the tasks and little jobs that need to be done in order to conduct a good church service. The list might also include any contributions people can make during the week. You can have a look at my list, if you view my post.
Now the challenge was to think about how all these duties could be done with or without love. I suggested readers might share their ideas in the comments. Had I been dealing with this subject in a church group this could have led to an interesting discussion.
Now you could do all these things with or without love. But perhaps being involved in the church you might also pursue selfish goals.
Very often you will benefit most as you contribute to church life. Still it is good at times to pause and to reflect on your true motives.
Selfishness at times can greatly reduce the value of your service. Suppose somebody is visiting and caring for sick and elderly church members. If this were a person primarily desiring to be given money from these people, his visits may be less than a happy experience to those in need of love.
The Greek word “zeteo” here translated seeking refers to a search for something hidden. Self-seeking in 1 Corinthians 13:5 thus implies some real effort to achieve selfish goals.
The bible often challenges us to reflect on our true motives. Paul here says that the love he is describing would not focus on self-centred aims. In helping others you ought to assess their needs rather than thinking about how you might benefit from them.