God, our heavenly Father, is love. As such, He has bestowed upon us a great gift, His gift of holy spirit, which allows us to manifest a supernatural love that can only have Him as its Source. God so wonderfully took the time to describe to us the characteristics of this love in I Corinthians 13. This chapter sets forth a beautiful picture of qualities we can showcase as we manifest this love of God as His born-again children. One of these qualities is that the love of God “seeketh not her own.”
In order to get a clearer understanding of this phrase so that we can manifest it in our day-to-day walk, let’s delve into the Greek words from which “seeketh not her own” are translated in I Corinthians 13:5.
I Corinthians 13:5:
[The love of God] Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.
The Greek word translated “seeketh” is zēteō, which here means to aim at, strive after. The Greek word for “not” is ou, meaning absolutely not. And the words “her own” are translated from the Greek reflexive pronoun heautou, which can be literally translated “of herself.” So, in putting it all together, here we learn that the love of God absolutely does NOT strive after the things of herself. In this specific context, “seeketh not her own” can be understood as “absolutely does not strive for its own advantage” or, as The Amplified Bible renders it, “does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking.”
Jesus Christ is our best example of living this quality of God’s love. Jesus Christ did not seek or strive for his own advantage or to do his own will, but rather to do the will of his Father. In John 5, he says:
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
Jesus Christ set his own will aside to do the will of his Father. This is clearly exemplified in the Garden of Gethsemane, before the hours of his trial and crucifixion. There that evening, with the agonizing knowledge of what he was about to endure facing him directly, he had a choice: he could do his own will, or he could continue doing what he’d always done—seek his Father’s will in order to benefit others.
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
The phrase “as thou wilt” shows that Jesus Christ had chosen to do what he had built as a habit—to submit his will to God’s. Rather than seeking his own advantage or comfort in this situation, he sought God’s will so that others could be saved. He is our most sterling example of this aspect of God’s love, as he selflessly gave his life and endured the cross to save many.
The Apostle Paul, in following Jesus Christ’s example of manifesting God’s love by seeking not his own, offers an alternative to striving for one’s own advantage.
I Corinthians 10:24,33:
Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.
Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
Here, we can see the extraordinary impact of living the selfless love of God: that when an individual chooses to not seek his own, but instead to seek the profit of many, people can be saved. How powerful it is to note that an individual can make a solitary choice to seek not the things of himself and have that one choice impact a multitude. There is, however, a distinction that should be drawn between seeking one’s own and taking heed unto oneself.
I Timothy 4:16:
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Taking heed unto ourselves is not the same as seeking our own. We do need to take heed unto ourselves. When we take heed unto ourselves and unto the doctrine, continuing in them, this benefits ourselves and others; whereas when we seek our own, the focus is only on ourselves. Jesus Christ remains our best example of this. He did not seek the things of his own, but he did take heed unto himself, taking time to pray and go to his heavenly Father when needed. God will certainly provide abundantly for us as we take heed unto ourselves and the doctrine of His Word and manifest this quality of God’s love in our service to others.
Many can benefit as we manifest God’s love and seek not the things of our own. Jesus Christ is our greatest example of this selfless love, and we continue to benefit today from the love he lived. We have been given the greatest advantage in all of life with what our lord and savior, Jesus Christ, accomplished for us by his selfless love, so we have no need to strive for our own advantage. Just as Paul did, we can selflessly seek the spiritual benefit of others as we reach out with God’s abounding love.