The NIV says, "It (love) is not self seeking . . ." I saw those words differently than in other versions. I saw "self see- king" this perception helped me understand love better.
It is hard to know what is self seeking because very few of our actions are purely altruistic. Honesty is the best policy because it is the best way to do business. In fact, it generates business. Benevolence and generosity toward others generates a positive well being. Most of our actions result in reciprocity from others. Therefore, you can be the most helpful individual in a town and still do it all for your own benefit.
The distinguishable factor seems to be whether or not I see myself as king. Do I do what I do to engender the affections of my subjects? Am I doing these things for their servitude or their praise? Would I do what I do if no one ever thanked me or paid me back in kindness?
I wonder. This is not my kind of love. This is God's kind of love. Most of His creation will never pay Him one moment of homage yet He sustains the universe. He gives grace to people who will never acknowledge Him. He loves those who hate Him.
I must come to the conclusion that God really never expects me to love others without His presence. This selfless love is beyond my ability.
Once the disciples could not cast a demon out of a boy. Jesus removes that demon. The disciples were perplexed. Why couldn't they remove the demon? Jesus told them that this type only comes out by prayer and fasting. I believe the demon that I must often remove is myself. I cannot love totally selfless except by being filled with the Holy Spirit, God's Spirit. My spirit must be changed by that filling.
I am in need of a lot of prayer and fasting if I am to have selfless love.
1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
It (love) is not self seeking.