Sanctified Unselfishness

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up.  Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own…”  I Corinthians 13:4-7

I have heard people say, “I don’t get mad, I get even!”  When God’s love is being expressed through us, we don’t get mad or even.  The Greek words for “love suffers long” are often translated patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love – a love that does not avenge itself, even when it has the right and opportunity to do so.

As we examine “love is kind,” we realize this love refuses to play the game of getting even.  The Greek word for kindness means, ‘love is easy – easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.’  Then we read: “Loves does not envy.”  The Greek words Paul used here prescribe, ‘an unselfish and unconditional commitment to another’s well-being.”  In other words, sanctified unselfishness.

The one who is applying this love is not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate and unconditional commitment to their happiness.  Their love commitment is not, ‘I love me and I need you,” or, “You love me and so do I.”  They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and happiness and my love for you is not based on, controlled, or even influenced by the ways you do, or do not, love me.”  Think of how critically this quality of love is needed when a spouse has Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, accident or an illness that seriously limits them…

The key to the love that behaves properly and is not touchy is that the one loving is not demanding his or her way.  The one who is a conduit of this love is others-centered, not self-centered.

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness.  Therefore, the greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness. This love virtue of unselfishness is repeated for emphasis, and listed between good manners and being unflappable, because Paul wants to underscore this in our hearts:  “Love does not seek its own (way.)”  It may be the most basic and important of all these expressions of love is that the one who is a conduit of the love of Christ is not seeking his or her own way.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love

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