St. John Chrysostom, Homily 33:
Thus having said, "doth not behave itself unseemly," he showeth also the temper of mind, on account of which she doth not behave herself unseemly. And what is that temper? That she "seeketh not her own." For the beloved she esteems to be all, and then only "behaveth herself unseemly," when she cannot free him from such unseemliness; so that if it be possible by her own unseemliness to benefit her beloved, she doth not so much as count the thing unseemliness; for the other party thereafter is yourself, when you love: since this is friendship, that the lover and the beloved should no longer be two persons divided, but in a manner one single person; a thing which no how takes place except from love. Seek not therefore thine own, that thou mayest find thine own. For he that seeks his own, finds not his own. Wherefore also Paul said, "Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbor's good." (1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 24) For your own profit lies in the profit of your neighbor, and his in yours. As therefore one that had his own gold buried in the house of his neighbor, should he refuse to go and there seek and dig it up, will never seek it; so likewise here, he that will not seek his own profit in the advantage of his neighbor, will not attain unto the crowns due to this: God Himself having therefore so disposed of it, in order that we should be mutually bound together: and even as one awakening a slumbering child to follow his brother, when he is of himself unwilling, places in the brother's hand that which he desires and longs for, that through desire of obtaining it he may pursue after him that holds it, and accordingly so it takes place: thus also here, each man's own profit hath he given to his neighbor, that hence we may run after one another, and not be torn asunder.
And if thou wilt, see this also in our case who address you. For my profit depends on thee, and thy advantage on me. Thus, on the one hand it profits thee to be taught the things that please God, but with this have I been entrusted, that thou mightest receive it from me, and therefore mightest be compelled to run unto me; and on the other hand it profits me that thou shouldest be made better: for the reward which I shall receive for this will be great; but this again lieth in thee; and therefore am I compelled to follow after thee that thou mayest be better, and that I may receive my profit from thee. Wherefore also Paul saith, "For what is my hope? are not even ye?" And again, "My hope, and my joy, and the crown of my rejoicing." (1 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 19) So that the joy of Paul was the disciples, and his joy they had. Therefore he even wept when he saw them perishing.
Again their profit depended on Paul: wherefore he said, "For the hope of, Israel I am bound with this chain. (Acts chapter 28, verse 20) And again, "These things I endure for the elect's sakes that they may obtain eternal life. (2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 10) And this one may see in worldly things. "For the wife," saith he, "hath not power over her own body, nor yet the husband; but the wife over the husband's, and the husband over the wife's." (1 Corinthians chapter 7, verse 4) So likewise we, when we wish to bind any together, do this. We leave neither of them in his own power, but extending a chain between them, we cause the one to be holden of the other, and the other of the one. Wilt thou also see this in the case of governors? He that judges sits not in judgment for himself, but seeking the profit of his neighbor. The governed on the other hand, seek the profit of the governor by their attendance, by their ministry, by all the other things. Soldiers take up their arms for us, for on our account they peril themselves. We for them are in straits; for from us are their supplies.
But if thou sayest, "each one doth this seeking his own," this also say I, but I add, that by the good of another one's own is won. Thus both the soldier, unless he fight for them that support him, hath none that ministers to him for this end: and this same on the other hand, unless he nourish the soldier, hath none to arm himself in his behalf. [4.] Seest thou love, how it is everywhere extended and manages all things? But be not weary, until thou have thoroughly acquainted thyself with this golden chain.
Adam Clarke: Seeketh not her own] ou zhtei ta eauthv? Is not desirous of her own spiritual welfare only, but of her neighbour's also: for the writers of the Old and New Testament do, almost every where, agreeably to their Hebrew idiom, express a preference given to one thing before another by an affirmation of that which is preferred, and a negative of that which is contrary to it. See Bishop Pearce, and see the notes on chap. i. 17; x. 24, 33. Love is never satisfied but in the welfare, comfort, and salvation of all. That man is no Christian who is solicitous for his own happiness alone; and cares not how the world goes, so that himself be comfortable.
Henry Drummond, "The Greatest Thing In The World": Unselfishness. "Love seeketh not her own." Observe: Seeketh not even that which is her own. In Britain the Englishman is devoted, and rightly, to his rights. But there come times when a man may exercise even
THE HIGHER RIGHT
Yet Paul does not summon us to give up our rights. Love strikes much deeper. It would have us not seek them at all, ignore them, eliminate the personal element altogether from our calculations.
It is not hard to give up our rights. They are often eternal. The difficult thing is to give up ourselves. The more difficult thing still is not to seek things for ourselves at all. After we have sought them, bought them, won them, deserved them, we have taken the cream off them for ourselves already. Little cross then to give them up. But not to seek them, to look every man not on his own things, but on the things of others—that is the difficulty. "Seekest thou great things for thyself?" said the prophet; "seek them not." Why? Because there is no greatness in things. Things cannot be great. The only greatness is unselfish love. Even self-denial in itself is nothing, is almost a mistake. Only a great purpose or a mightier love can justify the waste.
It is more difficult, I have said, not to seek our own at all than, having sought it, to give it up. I must take that back. It is only true of a partly selfish heart. Nothing is a hardship to Love, and nothing is hard. I believe that Christ's "yoke" is easy. Christ's yoke is just His way of taking life. And I believe it is an easier way than any other. I believe it is a happier way than any other. The most obvious lesson in Christ's teaching is that there is no happiness in having and getting anything, but only in giving. I repeat, there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Half the world is on the wrong scent in pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having and getting, and in being served by others. It consists in giving, and in serving others. "He that would be great among you," said Christ, "let him serve." He that would be happy, let him remember that there is but one way—"it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive."
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible: seeketh not her own things: even those which are "lawful", as the Arabic version renders it; but seeks the things of God, and what will make most for his honour and glory; and the things of Christ, and what relate to the spread of his Gospel, and the enlargement of his kingdom; and also the things of other men, the temporal and spiritual welfare of the saints: such look not only on their own things, and are concerned for them, but also upon the things of others, which they likewise care for:
John W. Gregson: It does not seek its own interests.
Matthew Henry: Charity is an utter enemy to selfishness: Seeketh not its own, does not inordinately desire nor seek its own praise, or honour, or profit, or pleasure. Indeed self-love, in some degree, is natural to all men, enters into their very constitution. And a reasonable love of self is by our Saviour made the measure of our love to others, that charity which is here described, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The apostle does not mean that charity destroys all regard to self; he does not mean that the charitable man should never challenge what is his own, but utterly neglect himself and all his interests. Charity must then root up that principle which is wrought into our nature. But charity never seeks its own to the hurt of others, or with the neglect of others. It often neglects its own for the sake of others; prefers their welfare, and satisfaction, and advantage, to its own; and it ever prefers the weal of the public, of the community, whether civil or ecclesiastical, to its private advantage. It would not advance, nor aggrandize, nor enrich, nor gratify itself, at the cost and damage of the public.
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