Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Love - Part 7: Does Not Seek Its Own

Love . . . does not seek its own” 1 Corinthians 13:5

This seems to be the recurring theme throughout chapter thirteen of 1 Corinthians. Unselfishness. As not pleasing ourselves, but desiring to serve and bless others has already been addressed to a great extent in this study, we will look at a slightly different aspect of this verse.

In Scripture, the word ‘seek’ and its various tenses are used numerously. There are many things that people (as a whole) and also specifically believers in Christ are instructed to seek. But what does it mean to seek?

Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines seek as “to make search or inquiry; to endeavor to make discovery; to make pursuit; to attempt to find or take; to endeavor to find.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defines it as “to seek or strive after, endeavor, to desire; ‘seeking’ the kingdom of God and His righteousness, in the sense of coveting earnestly, striving after.” The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon also agrees with and supports these definitions.

We can see by the above defining that this seeking is an active effort on our part; it is an action. God has placed in mankind a spirit which separates us from the beasts, thus giving men alone the ability to seek Him, to know Him, to respond to Him. (This is a whole topic in and of itself!) He has given man a conscience (Romans 2:14-16). And He has revealed Himself to man (Romans 1:20). He has extended the call to man to “seek the LORD while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6). This seeking does not simply ‘happen.’ It is not passive, and, it is not stationary. It is searching, striving after . . . is this the attitude of our hearts?

But what are we to seek? When looking through the verses on ‘seek’ in the concordance, the overwhelming number of usages are used in reference to seeking the Lord. There are two different aspects of seeking the Lord; 1) prior to salvation, and 2) after salvation (seeking to know Him more, etc.) Let us take a look at a sampling of verses from both of these categories:

1) Seeking the Lord which leads to salvation:

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Christ, during His ministry on earth, spoke also of seeking His kingdom and righteousness (being right before God/justified):

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you . . . . For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 6:33, 7:7 (see also Luke 12:31)

This seeking is an active effort on man’s part. God draws the man: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32). Christ has drawn all men to Him, He has revealed Himself to all of mankind (Romans 1:18-23), but it is man’s responsibility to respond to that drawing; to “seek the LORD while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6). The Hebrew word for ‘seek’ as used here is ‘darash’ which is usually used to mean ‘follow’ (for pursuit or search) (taken from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). This brings to mind Christ’s calling to the rich young ruler to “go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21). Christ called . . . the young man, however, made the choice to turn away. The cost was too great “for he was one who owned much property.” (Matthew 19:22). He had his heart set on earthly things instead of heavenly things. He was seeking the treasure of this earth, instead of the heavenly treasure. “. . . for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). We can easily see where this man’s ‘treasure’ was, and his heart was anchored there with it. Where is our treasure?

Christ has extended the same call to all of men “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26a).

2) After becoming believers in Christ, we are to continue this seeking of, striving after, the Lord for the purpose of drawing closer to Him, growing in the knowledge of Him, and growing in obedience to His Word. “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

This seeking after God is not only spoken of in the New Testament, but the great majority of the verses related to this are found in the Old Testament:

When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.’ ” Psalm 27:8

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually.” Psalm 105:4

How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.” Psalm 119:2

At night my soul longs for You, indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently” Isaiah 26:9a

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:25

What a beautiful picture the above verses paint! To have such a longing after the Lord instead of the things of this world. To have ones’ eyes firmly fixed upon Him. To “thirst” after Him. Longing for Him. How convicting this is!

Is our heart cry the same? Or are we seeking our own desires; our own wants? Are we seeking to know the Lord more? Or have we set Him aside in an effort to seek after the things of the world? Are we seeking to serve, love and bless others? Or are we seeking our own interests? (Philippians 2:2-11).

After firstly seeking the Lord, there are other things that God has commanded us to seek after. Some of them are:

Wisdom - Proverbs 8:17

Peace – Psalm 34:14; 1 Peter 3:11

Knowledge: Proverbs 15:14; 18:15

Good and not evil: Amos 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Righteousness, meekness: Zephaniah 2:3

To abound for the edification of the saints: 1 Corinthians 14:12

The good of his neighbor: 1 Corinthians 10:24

Self does not play a part in the above list, does it? In Scripture, all of the things that we are commanded to seek relate to either being made righteous (justified) before God, living righteously before Him (sanctification), and/or serving others. There is no room for seeking the desires and satisfaction of oneself.

May our heart’s desire be to firstly seek the Lord with all of our heart, diligently, and then seek to be obedient to His precepts and commands.

-Posted by Sarah


  1. Thank you for yet another helpful post. : ) It is good to be reminded of what we should seek for; so often I am likely to seek after the wrong things.

  2. I am so glad that the post was a blessing to you, Jerusha. I know that I was convicted while writing it!


  3. What a great post! Blessings to you always!

  4. Thank you for your the encouragement Sarah.

  5. Thank you, Sara and Margaret, for your comments! :)