PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

1 Corinthians 13:5b; Love Seeks Not Its Own

11/30 1 Corinthians 13:5b Love Seeks Not Its Own; Audio available at:

1 Corinthians 13 [SBLGNT]

4 Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ, χρηστεύεται ἡ ἀγάπη, οὐ ζηλοῖ ἡ ἀγάπη, οὐ περπερεύεται, οὐ φυσιοῦται, 5 οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ, οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ ἑαυτῆς, οὐ παροξύνεται, οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν,

1 Corinthians 13 [ESV2011]

12:31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The kind of love that we are talking about is a love that originates in God. God is love, and we love because he first loved us. Any love that we have for one another is a reflection of his perfect love for us. We learn what love is by looking to the God who is love. God’s love has a long fuse, is slow to anger. God’s love is good hearted, even to those who are ungrateful and wrong him. God’s love is not displeased when good comes to another, rather God’s love delights to bring good to others. God’s love is not bragging or self-inflating, God does not think of himself more highly that he ought to think; God recognizes himself as the all satisfying source of everything good, and in love he invites us to find our truest pleasure in admiring him. God’s love is not inappropriate, indecent, or shameful, rather God cleanses us, covers our shame, and clothes us with his own perfect righteousness.

Trinitarian Love

The next thing we are told about God’s love is that love does not insist on its own way, or love ‘seeketh not her own’ (KJV). This straightforward phrase literally says love ‘seeks not that which is its own’. I am going to argue today that this little phrase necessitates the Christian understanding of the triune nature of God, and this spills over into how we are to love one another. Christians do not believe that there is more than one true God, and Christians do not believe that the Father, Son and Spirit are the same person. The biblical understanding of God is that there is only one God who exists eternally in the three distinct persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

You might be wondering where in the world I get the trinity out of this phrase ‘love does not seek that which is its own’. In studying these verses on love, I have been asking of the text this question: If God is love and we love because he first loved us, then in what way does God demonstrate each of the characteristic of love that we are looking at? God is love. Love does not seek its own. But God does seek his own glory above everything else. We looked two weeks ago at several passages (Isaiah 48; Ezekiel 20, 36) in which God claims to do what he does for his own sake, for the sake of his own name, for his own praise, and for his own glory. We concluded then that although God is the most self-promoting being in the universe, who actively seeks his own glory, God is not arrogant or puffed up because his self seeking is not inflated and empty, but rather solid and substantial. He is exactly who he claims himself to be. But how do we get around the tension that God clearly does seeks his own, but love does not seek its own?

God Seeks His Own Glory

Before we move too quickly to the solution, I want to look at some verses that clearly depict God as one who seeks his own glory. God’s first command to his people was ‘I am the LORD your God, …You shall have no other gods before me’ (Ex.20:2-3). God is seeking his own worship. The second command was a prohibition to giving any worship or service to images, because ‘I the LORD your God am a jealous God’ (Ex.20:5). Listen to the Psalms:

Psalm 8:1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.

The entire Old Testament is saturated with the self-seeking of a God who demands to be praised. Repeatedly he insists that he does everything he does for his own sake. Listen to how our salvation is described in the New Testament:

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

He begins by blessing God, then he outlines our salvation; we were chosen to be holy, predestined for adoption…

…6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Election and predestination is all for the praise of his glorious grace. He goes on to say that he redeemed us, forgave us, made known his will to us, gave us an inheritance, and predestined us…

…12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

Again the motive in our salvation is that his glory is praised. He goes on to say that we heard the gospel, believed, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit…

…14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Our salvation is intended by him to bring him praise. He is seeking his own glory by saving us. Then he prays for us:

…17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

His prayer is that we know God, that our hearts recognize how great it is that he called us, that we know his riches, and how immeasurably great his power is. Our salvation is all about God’s glory being known and praised and delighted in!

In Romans 15, we are told that Jesus did what he did in order to demonstrate God’s truthfulness…

Romans 15:9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”

We find the purpose of God’s glory throughout the Bible. In Philippians 1, Paul prays:

Philippians 1:9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

We are to love and be pure and blameless, filled with the fruit of righteousness, to the glory and praise of God. Our righteousness is not an end in itself. Our righteousness comes through Jesus Christ and it is to the glory and praise of God.

Jesus said to the woman at the well:

John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

God is seeking worship. God unashamedly seeks his own glory in all things and above all things. But love does not seek its own. Does this mean that God is not loving? We see the character of God most clearly as we look to the image of the invisible God, the one who made God known, Jesus Christ our Lord. We gain beautiful clarity on what love looks like as we look to Jesus.

Jesus Seeks Not His Own

When Jesus’ disciples returned with lunch, they were surprised to find him speaking with a Samaritan woman, and when they offered him food, they were confused because he said ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about’ (Jn.4:32). Jesus explained:

John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

Jesus was sent by his Father. What sustained Jesus was doing the will of the Father, doing the things God sent him to do. Jesus told his disciples ‘the harvest is here!’ And many Samaritans believed in Jesus.

In John 5, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath day and told him to pick up his bed-roll and walk. The Jewish leaders considered this a violation of the Sabbath.

John 5:16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

Jesus does not argue that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, and he does not argue that for a paralyzed man who had been supernaturally healed to take up his bed-roll and walk should not be considered work. He doesn’t argue about the nature of work. Instead, he gave as his justification that he is working because his Father is working. In Genesis 2:2, we are told that God ‘rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done’. But although God had completed his creation and stopped his work, in a sense we know that God must continue to be at work in the world. We are told in Psalm 121:

Psalm 121:2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD is your keeper…

God ceaselessly keeps his people. He never rests from his work in the world. And Jesus says as his defense to the Jews that ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’ Jesus simply says ‘I do what my Father does, and he works on the Sabbath, so I work on the Sabbath’. We are told of Jesus in Hebrews 1 that

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. …

We are told of Jesus in Colossians 1 that he is the image of the invisible God and all things were created by him, through him, and for him,

Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Jesus is holding all things together. Jesus is upholding the universe by the word of his power. The Father is working, and Jesus is working, every day.

John 5:18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

The Jews understood what he was saying. He was claiming a unique relationship to God, that no one else could claim, as the only Son of the Father. He was claiming to be to be distinct from and equal to God the Father. He was not claiming to be the Father, he was the Son. He claimed to be one with the Father in his work.

John 5:19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.

In that culture a son didn’t strike out on his own business venture when he came of age. From the earliest days he would work with his father, learning the trade, learning the family business, learning the skills and secrets. A son would apprentice under his father until he was ready to take over the family business. Jesus was claiming a unique relationship with God the Father. Jesus doesn’t go off on his own and do his own thing. He does what his Father does. The Father shows him what he is doing, so the Son can do what the Father does. He claims in the following verses that he will raise the dead and give life, just as the Father does. He claims that the Father has entrusted all judgment to the Son,

John 5:23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

This is a startling claim. The Father has set it up so that Jesus would receive the same honor that his Father deserves. To dishonor the Son is to dishonor his Father. Jesus claims to speak the words of the Father. He claims to be self-existent, or have life in himself. In verse 30 he says:

John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Jesus claims to seek not his own will, but the will of the Father. Love incarnate does not seek his own. He seeks the will of the Father. In John 6, Jesus says:

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Jesus does the will of the Father. In John 7, Jesus says:

John 7:18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.

Jesus does not seek his own glory. He seeks the glory of his Father. Jesus says in John 8:

John 8:28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

Jesus always does the things that are pleasing to his Father. He gladly submits to the authority of his Father. He seeks the Father’s will and the Father’s glory. In John 8 we see Jesus honoring his Father.

John 8:49 … I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. …54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’

Jesus honors his Father, but we also see here that the God the Father seeks the glory and honor of Jesus. We see this reciprocal glorifying in John 13:

John 13:31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.

The Son is glorified by the Father, God the Father is glorified in the Son. John 15 and 16 brings the role of the Holy Spirit into this.

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

As the Father bears witness of the Son so also the Spirit bears witness of Jesus.

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The Spirit seeks not his own. The Holy Spirit seeks the glory of Jesus. When Jesus prays to his Father in John 17, he says:

John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Jesus seeks not his own, but to bring glory to his Father in everything he does. He asks the Father to glorify the Son with the glory he had from eternity.

We see a love that does not seek its own at work in the triune God. The fact that God seeks his own glory in all that he does, we now see with greater clarity. Jesus seeks the glory of the Father. The Father seeks to glorify the Son. The Spirit seeks the glory of the Father and the Son. Each is pursuing the glory of the other.

Now we can begin to appreciate the admonition of Philippians 2:

Philippians 2:2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Count others as more significant than yourselves. Seek not only your own interests, but also the interests of others. Jesus, eternally equal to his Father, did not cling to the privileges of that equality, but gladly humbled himself and obeyed his Father. His Father in turn highly exalted Jesus, and in turn, every knee bowing to Jesus brings glory back to God the Father. 1 Corinthians 15 speaks of the end,

1 Corinthians 15:24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. …28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

This seems to be what Paul is driving at when he says in Romans 12:10

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

The Father, Son and Spirit are not seeking their own, but are seeking to outdo one another in showing honor. Toward the end of Philippians 2, Paul is eager to send his dear son in the faith Timothy to them,

Philippians 2:20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

We are to seek not our own, but the good of others. In seeking the interests of others, we are seeking the glory of Jesus Christ. And when we become others focused and stop seeking our own interests, we are set free from worrying about ourselves. When we stop focusing on self and seeking our own, we are free to love, free to love like we have been loved, free to seek the good of others. When we stop seeking our own, we leave God room to seek our good. And he is much more capable of bringing us good than we are. Jesus paints for us a picture of what this looks like in Luke 12.

Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” … 22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.

Love does not seek its own. Seek not your own interests, but those of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

November 30, 2014 - Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , ,

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