First Corinthians 13--Love's priority
Jul 24, 2017
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love “does not seek its own (will).”
The Greek word for “seek” is zateo, “to seek, require, demand.” It is also a Hebraism for seeking God, as in worshiping Him or enquiring of God. So Paul was telling us in general that love does not seek its own will or desire, but puts the interest of others first. More specifically, one who loves does not think of himself as a god. His own will is not his first priority.
There is no agape love in the statement so often heard: "But what about ME?" Again, there is no agape in the question, "What's in it for ME?" Love's concern is for others, and only when the will of God and the needs of others are met does one think of one's self. It is a matter of priority in one's thinking.
Jesus said in John 15:13,
13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
The prime example of this is the prayer of Jesus, as He prepared Himself for crucifixion, as seen in Luke 22:41, 42,
41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done.”
Such was the love that was in Christ. Paul, too, expressed this characteristic of love in Philippians 1:21-24, saying,
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 23 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better [for me]; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
Paul’s personal desire was “to depart and be with Christ.” From the standpoint of his own personal comfort and desire, he preferred this. However, he was willing to ignore his own desire and seek the welfare of others, including the Philippian church. Paul knew that as long as he remained on earth, he was called to engage in “fruitful labor,” that is to bear fruit.
Paul never planned to retire from his job in God’s vineyard. He never lost purpose in life, for as long as he remained in the flesh, even if restricted by prisons, he would at least have a prayer ministry, watering the seeds that he and others had sown previously.
This is part 78 of a series titled "Studies in First Corinthians." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones