19 AUGUST 365 Days with Calvin

Seeking Selfless Love

… doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. 1 Corinthians 13:5

suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12–31

Love does not exult in foolish showiness, nor does it bluster, but it observes moderation and propriety in all things. Paul thus indirectly reproves the Corinthians for shamefully putting aside all propriety by unseemly haughtiness.

The apostle says true love seeketh not her own. From this we infer how very far we are from having love implanted in us by nature, for we are naturally prone to love and care for ourselves and aim at our own advantage. To speak more correctly, we rush headlong into activity that promotes self. The remedy for so perverse an inclination is love, which helps us to stop caring only for ourselves and to be concerned for our neighbors by loving them and being concerned for their welfare.

What is more, to seek one’s own things is to be devoted to self and to be wholly taken up with concern for one’s own advantage. This definition of love solves the question about whether it is lawful for a Christian to be concerned for his own advantage. Paul does not here reprove every kind of care or concern for self, but the excess of it, which proceeds from an immoderate and blind attachment to self.

Excess self-concern is thinking of ourselves to the neglect of others, or so desiring our personal advantage that we let go of the concern that God commands us to have for our neighbors. Paul says love is also a bridle to repress quarrels. This follows the first two statements; for where there is gentleness and forbearance, people do not suddenly become angry and are not easily stirred up to disputes and contests.

for meditation: The kind of love that Paul speaks about here is unconditional and sacrificial. Such love does not seek to serve itself; it seeks the good of others and the honor of God. If such love brings rewards, these are to be rejoiced in, but they are never to be the goal. How much of our love seeks its own? How can we love more unconditionally today?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 250). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

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