In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul says that there is only one stat that ultimately matters in your walk with God - one thing that that truly tells the world who you are, and that is your love (or lack thereof). The real question is, how do I grow in love? What does love look like? What does love do, and what does it not do? What is love?
7. Love Doesn’t Stalk Itself
Have you ever had someone take an unhealthy amount of interest in you? You know, at first, you were flattered by their attention. You liked it. It felt good to be liked and even wanted, but then things turned a corner…
When I was in high school, I started dating this girl I didn’t know very well simply because a friend told me I should. (By the way, if that sounds to you like a bad idea, you should probably trust that instinct) It turned out that this girl was an insomniac and would stay up all night, every night making me these extravagant gifts, art projects and mixed tapes. (ask your parents what a mixed tape is) And look, at first, I was flattered and even impressed that someone could make something so elaborate as an entire magazine complete with articles and interviews all about one person (me) in one night. I mean, it was a little weird, but also slightly cool, right? The thing is, after about two weeks of daily gifts (which obviously took hours to make) and constant phone calls and hang outs, I was getting a little tired. I mean, her affection (which seemed nice at first) became this creepy obsession that weirded me out on every level. She started to follow me around to my friends’ houses and somehow knew everything about what I was doing and who I was with. It was strange. I eventually had to break up with her, which didn’t go well.
In verse 5 of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that love isn’t “self seeking.” The Greek word that we have translated ‘seeking’ in that verse is used a ton in the New Testament. It’s used over 100 times, and we use a lot of different English words to translate it. The thing is, when you look at the times that word is used, it seems as though it means a lot more than simply to seek something. It seems to have some strength and purpose behind it. It’s the word used when Matthew says that the Pharisees were ‘searching’ for an opportunity to kill Jesus. It’s the word used when he says Judas was ‘seeking’ an opportunity to betray Jesus. It’s the word used again of the Pharisees when Matthew says they were trying to ‘obtain’ false testimony about Jesus. In other words, it means more than looking for something. It has the idea of plotting and planning all wrapped up in it. This is a version of looking that requires some work. It’s more like stalking than looking.
Someone who ‘seeks their own’ is basically a person who is on a mission of self-interest. this is a person who is laser-focussed on meeting their own needs. What Paul seems to be saying is that a person who knows how to love isn’t obsessed with themselves. A loving person isn’t stalking themselves. In other words, loving people don’t wake up every day working hard to make sure they are taken care of first. Loving people don’t walk into a room scouting out the best way for their own goals and needs to be met. Loving people take care of others first and themselves last. In fact, loving people are actually on a mission to take care of others first. That’s just what love is and how love acts.
I did find a verse where Jesus used that word ‘seek’ in a positive way, though. It was in Matthew 6 where Jesus said not to worry about food and clothes, but to seek first His kingdom and righteousness. If you want to stalk something and obsess over something, let it be Jesus and His kingdom.