Love does not insist on its own way (vs. 5).
My two-year-old self was a lot more adventurous than today, but just as stubborn. I apparently had a fascination with electrical outlets. I would pry off the little “child-proof” plastic caps and proceed to stick whatever objects I could find into the three little holes. But what would it be like if I stuck my own finger into there? I imagined I’d encounter all sorts of wonders. So I took my chubby little finger and tried to jam it into that hole—that portal to another world!
It was then that my mother interrupted me. “Matthew! Don’t stick your fingers into the outlet! It’ll make you die!”
I looked at her and in all my innocence said, “Okay. I die.”
I was a stubborn child—still am, in fact. Stubbornness runs very deep in my family. Or rather, stubbornness runs very deep in everyone’s family—it’s part of the package of depravity. As humans, we love to think that we do everything right—that what we want is what is best. That it’s our way or the highway—er, there is no highway. It’s just our way. That’s it. No compromise. No backing down. We’re going to do what we’re going to do.
Love doesn’t act like that—at all! In fact, 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that “love does not insist on its own way.” Love doesn’t act like a two-year-old—having a tantrum if someone messes up what they want to do. If something doesn’t go according to their way. In other words, acting like most Americans when our plans are changed by traffic, weather, babies, and other depraved creatures.
Literally, this phrase reads, “love doesn’t seek its own.” Doesn’t focus on its own things. Doesn’t just desire its own desires. Paul puts it another way earlier in the book of 1 Corinthians: “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor (10:33).” In fact, the book of Philippians spends almost a whole chapter on it. Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” But what does that look like, Paul? Give us an example! Okay, look at verse five and following…
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Did you get that? Do you see the example of this kind of love? God Himself gave up heaven—He gave up the Paradise of perfection for a pitiful planet called Earth! He exchanged the constant praise of angels for the accusations of self-righteous aristocrats. He gave up no pain, no sorrow for the gutters of this world where decaying bodies and corrupt souls met him on every street corner. But He did not stop by just coming to Earth. No, He brought Himself to the lowest place He could on earth—the place of a servant. And not just that—a slave on a Cross, the vilest form of death ever made. Christ did that. He humbled Himself—He did not insist on His own way, but surrendered to the will of His Father. Gave up His life for others. Gave up His success for selfish sinners.
Yet we, in all our stubbornness, don’t want to even lower ourselves to help in four-year-old Sunday school. We want to preach in church but not take dirty diapers to the trash. We want to get to work on time but not stop and encourage a friend on the way. We want to get to church—not stop and talk to the man crying in the corner of Starbucks. We want our own way—and heaven help the person who gets in our way. We drive down the highway of life, running over anyone who stands in our path. Our way only.
Stop! Stop your car. Get out. Help. Humble yourself. Become a servant—a slave of those around you. Forget what you want to do—try to do what someone else wants to do. Don’t seek your own success, but that of another. Don’t be stubborn.
Don’t act like a two-year-old. Act like a servant. Act like Christ.