Last week at Glory of Christ I preached from 1 Cor 13:1-13 and I suggested that the main point of verses 1-3 is that all spiritual gifts derive their value from love. As love increases the value of our gifts increase; as love decreases the value of our gifts decrease.
Since love has such a prominent role in the life of the church, then, it's crucial that we understand something about the nature of love which is why I think Paul wrote verses 4-7. It impresses me that Paul didn't so much give us a formal definition of love here, which he most certainly could have done, but rather he painted us a picture of what love looks like. And here's what he wrote:
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
The seventh trait is, in my opinion, the key to understanding the rest. The ESV translates the verse, "It [love] does not insist on its own way," but the Greek more literally reads "it [love] does not seek the things of itself." (Thus, the KJV, NKJV, NASB, and NIV translate this verse more accurately.)
Hmm, that phrase has really left on impression on my heart: love does not seek the things of itself. It's centered on the other, first of all God and then its neighbor. So love is patient because it's not seeking its own agenda and thus it can put up with others and it can wait. Love doesn't boast because it's not seeking its own superiority and thus it can live to lift up the other. Love endures all things because its not seeking its own comfort and thus it's willing to suffer if it must to achieve the good of the other.
Love does not seek the things of itself.
I pray that the Lord would use this phrase in your life as powerfully as he's used it in mine in recent days.