Love is Not Self-Seeking

Here we have two more absolute negative verbs about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

As believers, love doesn’t seek its own interest, it’s not selfish. Love does not insist on its own rights. Seek is a very interesting word. Seek ζητέω (dzay-teh’-o) (zeteo) means to try to learn the location of something by movement from place to place in the process of searching. It can mean to crave or demand something.

Paul writes to the church at Philippi….

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2:3-5 [Emphasis Mine]

Love doesn’t seek what makes me happy, love says what makes others happy. There are those who constantly seek things out, this place or that group of people, or what happens to be the current fad going on in the world and culture. Love doesn’t have a personal agenda.

No! Paul says… Love regards one another as more important than yourself.

Do you do that?

You see, love seeks to serve others, and when we serve we serve under the radar, not sharing it with anyone who will listen. Love does not seek personal recognition and honor. It wants to give these things to others.

Vance Havner describes this kind of person in detail…

The Greek word zeteo, which means to seek. However, it was also used to depict a person who is so upset about not getting what he wanted that he turns to the court system to sue or to demand what he is striving to obtain. Instead of taking no for an answer, this person is so intent on getting his own way that he will search, seek, and investigate, never giving up in his pursuit to get what he wants.

In fact, he’s so bent on getting his way that he’ll twist the facts; look for loopholes; put words in other people’s mouths; try to hold others accountable for promises they never made; leap on administrative mistakes as opportunities to twist someone’s arm; or seek various other methods to turn situations to his benefit. This is manipulation! There is no doubt that Paul had the image of a manipulating, scheming person in his mind when he wrote this verse. Have you ever met such a person? Have you ever encountered a man or woman who schemed and manipulated all the time to get what he or she wanted?

Vance Havner [Emphasis Mine]

So this person seeks and seeks and seeks some more, all of a sudden life is gone. They have spent their whole life seeking their own interest. It’s a never-ending cycle as they leave others that need their love and attention behind.

Love doesn’t seek its own pleasures, its own enjoyment, its own standing. Love always thinks about others! Love has a concern for our friends, family, even our neighbors. Love always has a concern for their welfare.

I was reading in one of my commentaries on this verse, listen to what Lenski writes… “Cure selfishness and you have just replanted the garden of Eden.” Remember that selfish sin of Adam and Eve? It was all about me!

Now to the second one…

Love is not provoked. Provoked παροξύνω (par-ox-oo’-no) paroxýnō (paroxuno from pará = at point of, implying movement toward a certain point + oxúno = sharpen, incite, irritate, to make angry.

MacArthur writes…

Telling our wives or husbands that we love them is not convincing if we continually get upset and angry at what they say and do. Telling our children that we love them is not convincing if we often yell at them for doing things that irritate us and interfere with our own plans. It does no good to protest, “I lose my temper a lot, but it’s all over in a few minutes.” So is a nuclear bomb. A great deal of damage can be done in a very short time. Temper is always destructive, and even small temper “bombs” can leave much hurt and damage, especially when they explode on a regular basis. Lovelessness is the cause of temper, and love is the only cure.

John MacArthur, 1 Corinthians Commentary [Emphasis Mine]

Love does not attribute bad motives to others. It does not suspect their actions. When we love others, we are not mean to them, we don’t come back with nasty comments. We are not quick to say those things that are cutting, that can quickly cut at their hearts.


We are quick to overlook their faults or whatever they said or did to us.

We are quick to forgive!

Do you give your life to others?
Are you self-seeking?

Again we have a pattern and bar to go by, and it’s set high!

Matthew 20:28
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

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