I’ve often reminded others of Shaul’s words: “love is not self-seeking” (1 Cor 13:5), but today I’d like to talk about my own struggle with this admonition.
I am somewhat more like a cat than a dog. Dogs love you even if you don’t love them back. They try so hard to please you at every turn. Only rarely have I met a dog with a snooty attitude towards their loved ones. I admire them as loyal, loving, selfless beings.
Cats, however, are selfish animals who’d rather own you than be owned by you. They demand everything from you and don’t know the meaning of “no” or “I don’t feel like it” or even “stay”. Cats may be cuddly and soft, but they are in it for themselves.
So that’s me, a cat. I think when it comes to my relationships I am much more needy and selfish than I should be. There are quite a few exceptions to this rule, but let’s just focus on the rule itself for a bit. I want what I want when I want it. I’d rather do it my way. If I think I’m right, it will physically hurt admitting that I could be wrong. I’ll do it, but I’ll try to do it in a way that shows how I still could be right. I like being affectionate, but I often put my needs and wants above others’.
This even (or especially) includes God. Our relationship is fairly good, but I’m still stuck in the “me, me me!” stage that can haunt an immature faith walk. Am I in it because He’s God or am I in it because of what He does for me? This battle isn’t a new concept to me; and it’s one I’ve been working on for a long time. However, it’s almost as stubborn as I am when it comes to relenting. I’m not in it for Heaven (theological views of olam habah aside). Instead, I’m probably more in it for the many this-worldly rewards like those promises for your generosity to come back to you or even the promises of God protecting you. Selfish, selfish, selfish. It’s a dirty feeling to realize this sin in my life and have to wear it like a shawl throughout my waking hours. Instead of the armor of God, I’m wearing old sin, nearly choking beneath it.
The battle is difficult. But it can be won by God Himself. That blows me out of the water even more. Not only does God hate my sin, he also shows me mercy and wants to tear it away from me. But am I holding onto it? Why would I choose it if I hate it so much? Perhaps it is like a woman who chooses not to leave her abusive husband. She gives the evil one more day, but instead of fixing it, she is wasting away under its power.
Love is not “self-seeking”. As I read that over again it makes me wonder: who am I seeking? What do I want more than anything? Do I want a man, a friend, or a God like myself? Or do I want the joy of companionship, partnership, and servanthood? Do I love them for who they are or do I seek to make them like me? Self-seeking… Seeking myself in the world around me.
What an ugly place that would be if all I found in the world was myself. I would much rather have my arms opened, releasing that cloak of sin, and my cry as my worldly flesh is stripped away by the great Hand of God. Like the scales that would not come off of Eustace no matter how hard he scrubbed and bled… only the loving Hand of the Lord can free us from our flesh and our sin. The pain would be tremendous, but the joy would seep into the crevices of my soul and heal those wounds.
I do not wish to be self-seeking any longer.