Sanctified Unselfish Love

“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.

Examining “love is kind,” 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.’ “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 applying this love is not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate, unconditional commitment to their happiness. They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being 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.

The key to the love that is not touchy is that the one loving is not demanding his or her way. The one who is a conduit of Christ’s love is others-centered, not self-centered.

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness.  The greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness. This love virtue of unselfishness is listed between good manners and being unflappable, because Paul wants to underscore in our hearts: “Love does not seek its own (way.)”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love

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