Charity the Opposite of a Selfish Spirit
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,…


1. That charity is not contrary to all self-love. If Christianity tended to destroy a man's love to himself and his own happiness, it would tend to destroy the very spirit of humanity. The saints and the angels love their own happiness; otherwise they would not be happy; far what one does not love he cannot enjoy. Nor is it unlawful, for God's law makes self-love a rule by which our love to others should be regulated (Matthew 19:19). And the same appears also from the fact that the Scriptures are full of motives which work on self-love.

2. That the selfishness which charity is contrary to, is only an inordinate self-love. This consists —

(1) In its being too great comparatively; either by love to God and to man being too small, as it is in many Christians, or by its being none at all, as is the case with the unregenerate. In some respects, of course, wicked men do not love themselves enough; for they do not love the way of their own happiness; and in this sense it is said of them that they hate themselves, though, in another sense, they love self too much.

(2) In placing that happiness in things that are confined to himself. And when it is said that charity seeketh not her own, we are to understand it of her own private good — good limited to herself (Philippians 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:2).


1. It leads those who possess it to seek not only their own things, but the things of others.

(1) It seeks to please and glorify God (Ephesians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

(2) It seeks the good of our fellow-creatures (Philippians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 10:24, 33; Romans 14:2) for —

(a)  It is a sympathising and merciful spirit (Colossians 3:12; James 3:17; Psalm 37:26). It is —

(b)  A liberal spirit (Hebrews 13:16; Galatians 6:10).

(c)  It disposes a person to be public-spirited. A man of a right spirit is not a man of narrow and private views, but is greatly interested and concerned for the good of the place in which he resides, and the society of which he is a member (Jeremiah 29:7; Luke 7:5; Esther 4:16; Romans 9:1-3). Especially will the spirit of Christian love dispose those that stand in a public capacity, such as that of ministers, and magistrates, and all public officers, to seek the public good.

2. It disposes us, in many cases, to forego and part with our own things, for the sake of others (Acts 21:13; 1 John 3:16).


1. The nature of love in general. It is of a diffusive nature, and espouses the interests of others.

2. The peculiar nature of Christian or Divine love. Though all real love seeks the good of those who are beloved, yet all other love, excepting this, has its foundation, in one sense, in the selfish principle. So it is with the natural affection which parents feel for their children, and with the love which friends have one to another. But as self-love is the offspring of natural principles, so Divine love is the offspring of supernatural principles, for it embraces enemies as well as friends.

3. The nature of this love to God and to man in particular.

(1) From the nature of this love to God. The Scriptures teach that those who truly love God, love Him so as wholly to devote themselves to Him and His service (Mark 12:30).

(2) From the nature of this love to man.

(a) We are required to love our neighbour as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39).

(b) We are to love others as Christ hath loved us (John 13:34). In John 15:12 Christ calls it His commandment.

(i)  Christ has set His love on His enemies (Romans 5:8, 10).

(ii)  Such was Christ's love to us, that He was pleased, in some respects, to look on us as Himself (Matthew 25:40).

(iii)  Such was the love of Christ to us, that He spent Himself for our sakes.

(iv)  Christ thus loved us, without any expectation of ever being requited by us for His love.Conclusion: Let me dissuade all from a selfish spirit and practice, and exhort all to seek that which shall be contrary to it. In addition to the motives already presented, consider —

1. That you are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; 1 Peter 1:19).

2. That by your very profession as a Christian, you are united to Christ and to your fellow-Christians (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

3. That, in seeking the glory of God and the good of your fellow-creatures, you take the surest way to have God seek your interests and promote your welfare.

(Jon. Edwards.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

WEB: Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud,

Charity Seeketh not Her Own
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