One of the Hardest Things About Love

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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[Love] does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

1 Corinthians 13:

When I first begin reading the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, I'm encouraged, but not especially troubled. I try to be patient and kind. And I'm not especially jealous or boastful. Okay, I can struggle with pride, but I'm not usually rude. Then I come to the simple statement that love "does not demand its own way," and I feel as if I've just received a punch in my emotional gut. Why? Because I like to demand my own way. I like my own way. I tend to think my own way is best. So, all of a sudden, love seems pretty doggone hard. Love feels contrary to my very nature.

The Greek phrase translated as "does not demand its own way" reads more literally, "[Love] does not seek the things of itself." By implication, it seeks the things of others, including the things of God. I'm reminded of Paul's exhortation to the Philippians: "Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too" (Phil. 2:4). This attitude reflects the very mind of Christ, who did not cling to the perks of divinity, but rather gave up his divine privileges, humbling himself by becoming human and even dying on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8). The sacrifice of Christ models for us what it means to love by not demanding our own way.

Notice, 1 Corinthians 13:5 does not instruct us to stop caring about God's way. This verse does not call us to superficial tolerance of anything and everything, as if we didn't have any investment in truth or justice. Rather, we are to be people of love who do not seek our own selfish gain. My own way is what's best for ME. The Message rightly captures the sense of this verse: "[Love] isn't always 'me first.' "

If I'm to be a person who loves, first and foremost I need to seek God's ways. I surrender my will to God's superlative will. Then, as I live in alignment with him, I will invest my energies in caring about others, learning what matters to them, trying to serve them. I will not "seek the things of myself," but rather seek what's best for others. In this way, I will love my family, my colleagues, my business associates, and my neighbors.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you find it natural to demand your own way? Why or why not? What helps you to seek what's best for others? What sets you free from "me-first-ism"? PRAYER: Loving God, you know how natural it is for me to demand my own way, to seek my own advantage. Forgive me, Lord, for the times when I fail to love because I'm too wrapped up in myself.

By your grace, teach me to be like Christ, who humbled himself for the sake of others . . . for my sake! Give me eyes to see the needs of those around me. Give me a heart to empathize with their concerns. May my hands reach out with tangible love and assistance. As I give myself away to others, may I know that you receive my love for them as love for you.

Even this day, Lord, show me how I can serve those around me.

I pray in the name of Jesus, who did not demand his own way, but loved with a self-giving love. Amen.