9. What warning examples does the Bible provide of individuals who were looking out for their own interests?
9 Love “does not look for its own interests.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) A loving person does not manipulate others in order to get his way. The Bible contains warning examples in this matter. To illustrate: We read of Delilah, Jezebel, and Athaliah—women who manipulated others for their own selfish causes. (Judges 16:16; 1 Kings 21:25; 2 Chronicles 22:10-12) There also was King David’s son Absalom. He would approach those who came to Jerusalem for judgment and slyly insinuate that the king’s court lacked genuine interest in their problems. Then he would state outright that what the court really needed was a warmhearted man like him! (2 Samuel 15:2-4) Of course, Absalom was interested, not in the downtrodden, but only in himself. Acting as a self-appointed king, he swayed the hearts of many. But in time, Absalom met a crushing defeat. At his death, he was not even deemed worthy of a decent burial.—2 Samuel 18:6-17.
10. How can we demonstrate that we are keeping an eye on the interests of others?
10 This is a warning to Christians today. Whether male or female, we may by nature have persuasive powers. It may be easy for us to get our way, so to speak, by dominating a conversation or by wearing down those who have a different view. If we are truly loving, however, we will keep an eye on the interests of others. (Philippians 2:2-4) We will not take advantage of others or promote questionable ideas because of our experience or our position in God’s organization, as if our views are the only ones that carry weight. Rather, we will remember the Bible proverb: “Pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”—Proverbs 16:18.
11. (a) In what ways can we show love that is both kind and decent? (b) How can we show that we do not rejoice over unrighteousness?
11 Paul also wrote that love is “kind” and that it “does not behave indecently.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5) Yes, love will not allow us to act in a rude, vulgar, or disrespectful manner. Instead, we will take others’ feelings into consideration. For example, a loving person will avoid doing things that would disturb the consciences of others. (Compare 1 Corinthians 8:13.) Love “does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6) If we love Jehovah’s law, we will not wink at immorality or be entertained by things that God hates. (Psalm 119:97) Love will help us find joy in things that build up rather than tear down.—Romans 15:2; 1 Corinthians 10:23, 24; 14:26.
12, 13. (a) How should we react when someone offends us? (b) Cite Bible examples to show that even justified anger can cause us to act unwisely.
12 Paul writes that love “does not become provoked” (“is not touchy,” Phillips). (1 Corinthians 13:5) Granted, it is only normal for us imperfect humans to become agitated or to feel a degree of wrath when someone offends us. However, it would be wrong to harbor prolonged resentment or to continue in a provoked state. (Psalm 4:4; Ephesians 4:26) If left unchecked, even justified anger might cause us to act unwisely, and Jehovah could hold us responsible for this.—Genesis 34:1-31; 49:5-7; Numbers 12:3; 20:10-12; Psalm 106:32, 33.
13 Some have allowed the imperfections of others to affect their decision to attend Christian meetings or to share in the field ministry. Previously, many of these put up a hard fight for the faith, perhaps bearing up under family opposition, ridicule from workmates, and the like. They endured such obstacles because they viewed them as tests of integrity, and rightly so. But what happens when a fellow Christian says or does something unloving? Is this not also a test of integrity? Indeed it is, for if we remain in a provoked state, we could “allow place for the Devil.”—Ephesians 4:27.
14, 15. (a) What does it mean to “keep account of the injury”? (b) How can we imitate Jehovah in being forgiving?
14 With good reason, Paul adds that love “does not keep account of the injury.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) Here he uses an accounting term, evidently to suggest the act of inscribing the offense in a ledger so that it will not be forgotten. Is it loving to make a permanent mental record of the hurtful word or deed, as if we will need to refer to it at some future time? How glad we can be that Jehovah does not scrutinize us in such a merciless manner! (Psalm 130:3) Yes, when we are repentant, he blots out our errors.—Acts 3:19.
15 We can imitate Jehovah in this regard. We should not be overly sensitive when someone seems to slight us. If we are quick to take offense, we may be hurting ourselves more deeply than the person who offended us ever could. (Ecclesiastes 7:9, 22) Instead, we need to remember that love “believes all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Of course, none of us want to be gullible, but neither should we be unduly suspicious of our brothers’ motives. Wherever possible, let us give one another the benefit of the doubt.—Colossians 3:13.