Love Does Not Seek its Own
Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-31, 13:4-8a; Philippians 2:1-8
In 1977 a man named Robert Ringer self-published a book entitled “Looking Out for Number One.” It became a #1 bestseller and is still considered to be one of the top fifteen self-help books of all time. The book was based on the premise that since man’s inherent nature is to look out for number one, we need to do a better job of looking out for number one. Here’s a quote, “We sometimes lose sight of the fact that our primary objective is really to be as happy as possible and that all our other objectives, great and small, are only a means to that end.” That phrase— “looking out for number one”—has since become a part of our culture’s vernacular. But we do not need a book to teach us how to be selfish…we have the world, the flesh and the devil all encouraging us to live that way.
The church in Corinth was rife with selfish behavior. They were not sharing when it came to their observance of the Lord’s supper, and some were going away hungry. There were some who were so concerned about standing up for their rights, that they were even suing their fellow believers, and doing so before the non-Christians. And they were not using their spiritual gifts to build up others, but to build up themselves that they might impress others. The truth was, that in looking out for #1, they had failed to look to the example of the true #1, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!
From birth we are prone to such behavior. Children do not need to be taught to look out for number one in the demanding of things, as we are all born to selfishness. We now live in that time of which we were warned, in which people would be “lovers of self” (2 Timothy 3:2). The words “I, me, my, myself” predominate. We are a society filled with people who live their lives thinking that the universe revolves around them, but who are growing increasingly frustrated by the universe’s refusal to cooperate. As the Pogo cartoon once put, “We’ve met the enemy and it is us!” What hope do we have for victory over the selfishness that lies so deeply rooted within us?
The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us and in Him a radically different manner of life was unveiled. The One who was rich, yet became poor, did not seek His own when He ventured into this sin-needy place. He did not seek His own as He perfectly subjected Himself to the Father’s will. He lived according to the godly character that was innate to His being. So what do we discover as we examine His life? He took on the form of a bondservant. He came not to be served, but to serve. He was accompanied by no royal entourage. He had no home and no possessions. He pursued no selfish dreams or ambitions. He served others. Purposefully. Relentlessly. Sacrificially. He taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and that is the way He lived. He was surrounded daily with people having needs, and He gave and gave. He was conspired against and betrayed, and then arrested and put on trial–still He did not seek His own, for He had prayed, “Father, not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). He was accused and convicted, beaten and crucified. He was mocked and insulted as He hung on that cross, but He still did not seek His own, for He had come to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)!
How radically beautiful is Jesus’ example of selflessness! On the merit of His willing sacrifice on the cross for our sins, we have been saved. The cross speaks likewise to the merit of His manner of life, for He came not just to wonderfully save us, but to radically change us! “Have this mind among yourselves,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). You’ve been called to a dramatically different manner of thinking and living! He came to serve, He is called you to do the same–in your marriage, family, workplace, school setting, church community–the question is not what other people can do for you, but how you can best serve Jesus in serving them? Of course, it is only by the Spirit that we can do this! But as He bears a selfless love in us, we’ve a unique opportunity in these increasingly narcissistic times, to bear a credible witness before a world of folks who need the Savior!
Jesus Did Not Seek His Own and He Calls Us to Think and Live in the Same Way
Lord Jesus. How amazing You are in Your selfless ways! How radically different and beautiful was Your life set against the backdrop of our sinful and selfish lives! Forgive us for our selfishness. Thank You for saving us, and patiently working in our lives such that we might walk in the newness of life that is characterized by Your love. We know that self is too powerful a foe to be subdued in our own strength, grant us Your supernatural power, by the Spirit, that the old might give way to the new in us. You’ve reminded us that it’s more blessed to give than to receive, but there’s a part of us that is always wanting. May the Spirit work to renew our minds, so that we will think as we should about such things. Thank You for saving us and patiently working to save us! In Your Name. Amen