Love Does Not Insist on its Own Way
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way… 1 Corinthians 13:4,5a,b
In his first letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul provides a straightforward explanation of what love is and what love is not. The fifth trait that does not characterize love is insisting on its own way. Most of us have had experiences dating back to childhood with others insisting on their own way. It might be a sibling, a bully at school, or a bossy cousin, but there is often someone who insists that whatever a group is doing be done in his or her way. (If this does not ring a bell, that person may be you!)
When we insist on our own way, we imply that we know best or that we are the smartest (thus, everyone else is dumber). It is selfish and narcissistic, in most instances, to insist that our ideas are always superior. Certainly, we can and should express our opinion, but when we demand others always comply is when we cross the line into unabashed vanity. We become like the boss with the philosophy of “My way or the highway!” or the child forever threatening to take his or her toys and go home. At least in a work setting, one is getting paid to put up with that sort of disrespectful, unloving behavior. In general, when we always insist on getting our way we are telling others they are neither important nor are their opinions valued. That is not a solid basis for a loving relationship.
Love does not insist on its own way because love is other-focused. Even though there is often a return to us from our acts of love, that return is not our motivation. Genuine love is not conditional. It does not have to be earned or repaid. We act in loving ways toward another because we care about them, and because we love to love. Love is its own motivation, and acts of love spring from an internal abundance that longs to express.
A common cause of tension in relationships is the need to be right, which is a form of insisting on one’s own way. Recently, I saw a post that said, “Would you rather be right or happy?” Being right and being happy are not always mutually exclusive, but when our need to be right tears down others in our key relationships, happiness will be difficult to achieve. When one person is right, by definition, another person must be wrong. It sets up a win-lose situation, which is not the ideal for a relationship. It is much better for us and for our relationships to swallow our pride and seek the greatest good for all involved. If the relationship or group we are in does not respect or recognize that which is important to us, it is probably time to find better company.
Let us make 2016 the year of love, as love was meant to be.