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God is love. He isn’t selfish. Plainly put, neither should I be. Love is selfless. That is the way of Jesus.

God’s goal for me is for me to think of others first. To love them like I love myself.

May I love the way our Father does. May I always put others first.

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful …

English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 13:5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Few chapters in the Bible have suffered more misinterpretation and misapplication than 1 Corinthians 13. Divorced from its context, it becomes “a hymn to love” or a sentimental sermon on Christian brotherhood. Many people fail to see that Paul was still dealing with the Corinthians’ problems when he wrote these words: the abuse of the spiritual gifts, division in the church, envy of others’ gifts, selfishness (remember the lawsuits?), impatience with one another in the public meetings, and behavior that was disgracing the Lord.

“Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies [builds up]” (1 Cor. 8:1). The purpose of spiritual gifts is the edification of the church. This means we must not think of ourselves, but of others; and this demands love.

The Corinthians were impatient in the public meetings, but love would make them long-suffering. They were envying each other’s gifts, but love would remove that envy. They were “puffed up” with pride, but love would remove pride and self-vaunting and replace it with a desire to promote others. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10).

At the “love feast” and the Lord’s Table, the Corinthians were behaving in a very unseemly manner. If they had known the meaning of real love, they would have behaved themselves in a manner pleasing to the Master. They were even suing one another!

But love “seeks not [its] own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil” (1 Cor. 13:5). The phrase thinks no evil means “does not keep any record of wrongs.” Forgiveness means that we wipe the record clean and never hold things against people.

Self-denial for the sake of others

Here are a few examples of selflessness from scripture.

  • Ruth 2:11 (NASB) — 11 Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.
  • Philippians 2:4 — 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
  • Exodus 32:32 — 32 “But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!”
  • Esther 4:16 — 16 “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.”