“[Love] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” (1 Cor 13:5)
Being stuck in the middle seat of the narrow economy cabin of a full international flight, I frowned when I heard the window seat passenger say, “Excuse me,” right after the flight attendant had passed out our meal plates. I groaned silently in my heart, “How inconvenient! Can’t you wait until after we finish our meals?” Nevertheless, I stood up without saying a word and made room for her to go. She must have sensed my unwillingness and said in a low voice, “I am sorry.”
I felt somewhat ashamed of being rude. My discourtesy revealed a lack of consideration for others. Love cannot be selfish, as love is concerned for the other person’s well-being. When Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, He is not telling us to love them in the sense of responding to them with a cozy emotional feeling. He is telling us to love our neighbors in the sense of being willing to work for their well-being, even if it means sacrificing our own well-being.
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil 2:4).
Laying aside self-interest is essential to all our relationships. Paul cared for the Ephesian believers and loved them, even crying over their needs. They responded with love and care for him and feeling sorry over his leaving (Act 20:36-38). Like Paul, we can build a relationship with other believers by sharing, caring, sorrowing, rejoicing and praying with them. Jesus spent a lot of time in prayers. Sometimes they were intercessory prayers for others. An important way for us to show love is to pray for one another.
We often wait for someone to reach out to us in friendship before we respond. We must learn to take a risk by making the first move and also treat others with courtesy and respect. When we give up our self-interest, personal recognition and intent, we can serve with joy, love, and kindness. A life of love is shown in our words and actions and will impact others to bring glory to the Lord.