v 33. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.
I don’t think Paul is suggesting that we will be able to please everyone! That would be unrealistic I believe. The key phrase is I don’t just do what is best for me. The quality of love in Christian Fellowship requires that selfishness is outlawed, so we cease planning with our own personal needs always in the forefront. This means giving in to meet the needs of others at times, so that we positively and actively choose to do what is helpful for them. Rebuilding a common life in Fellowship will require both love and compromise.
Now, there is a dangerous word – compromise. It has such negative overtones that it might easily be misunderstood as weakness. It can be viewed as giving in to the people who shout loudest, or who appear most important, or even form a majority group. (Is the majority always right?) Then there are those who are the most demanding; they may achieve their aims by either charming or whining. Genuine compromise may involve the effort of finding a totally fresh way through strange circumstances. In whatever way we come to some agreement, we have to learn to consider the needs of others, and accept that our own needs might have to be held in check.
I have heard love defined as ‘Seeking the highest good of the person loved.’ Try thinking that way when you find another person’s behaviour difficult or challenging. It doesn’t always mean giving in to the child (or adult!) who throws a paddy, but it could mean letting go of selfish plans.