Love doesn’t demand its own way; it isn’t self-seeking and doesn’t demand self-fulfillment (1 Cor 13:5). Thiselton notes that love can even give up its own rights—to say nothing of its own selfish interests. Just as Jesus Christ didn’t please himself (Rom 5:13), so it should be with us. Instead, we should seek the good of our neighbor (1 Cor 10:24), especially for the sake of effective evangelism (1 Cor 10:33). And within the church, this attitude is what will assure that we care for one another (1 Cor 12:25). Even the things we might freely enjoy should be sacrificed for the sake of the weak among us (Gal 5:13). Paul said, I’ll endure anything for the sake of the church (2 Tim 2:10).
Ultimately, it comes down to this: we don’t seek our own interests, but those of Jesus Christ (Phil 2:21), who himself was not self-seeking but laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16). By contrast, the Corinthians had insisted on having their own way about idol worship (1 Cor 10:24, 33), rushed to feed themselves at the Lord’s table (1 Cor 11:21–22), foisted unintelligible tongues on public services (14:27–28), and interrupted speakers with “instant revelations” or carried on forever when others might have contributed if given a chance (1 Cor 14:29–33).
Self-seeking/Self-fulfillment & the Charismata
Given that the gifts of the Spirit are meant for building up others in the body of Christ, a whining worry about getting your own way just won’t cut it. Jesus told his disciples,
If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Matt 16:24–26)
This is a non-negotiable requirement for discipleship: Jesus says, “if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
A prayer against a self-seeking spirit…
Help me not to fall into the trap of seeking only self-fulfillment,
not to become addicted to getting my own way.
I pray for those who suffer the consequences of others’ self-seeking,
bless them with endurance for what is unavoidable,
bless them with deliverance from what is unendurable.
Nourish the fruit of the Spirit in us,
and smother selfish ambition.
In Jesus’s name, amen.