It is difficult to love freely when a person's view of themself is diminished. One must learn to move into reciprocal relationships based on equal value in the eyes of God. Since mankind was made in His image, it is important for believers to walk in authority and take charge of one's own life -- while acknowledging our dependence upon Him. Real power comes from willing submission to Him.
To freely and completely love another, one must be free to embrace who they are, thereby giving themself permission to say yes and to say no with confidence, and without feeling guilty. From the beginning, the Lord gave men and women the charge to rule and steward their own environment. Making free choices without any duress, taking responsibilities for the outcome whether negative or positive, and being accountable to others. These are all aspects of taking charge of one's own life.
Taking charge is not without consideration for God's will and purposes. However, He is often used as a scape-goat for indecisiveness and passivity. His desire for His children is that they grow up and make wise choices. What is being espoused here is not humanism. But there is a valid sense in which one is the “captain of ones soul” A person must become responsible for meeting their own adult needs without embracing carnal selfishness.
It is not up to someone else to meet a person's adult needs. To walk in maturity, one must take responsibility for those needs. As they move towards maturity, they learn the lessons of love, which include making the free choices to sacrifice personal own needs in order to meet someone else's needs. One discovers in the process that there is an even greater sense of fulfillment in esteeming others higher than oneself. (Philippians 2:3)
This admonition does not teach that one is to view themselves as some how inferior to someone else. Saint Paul is simply teaching the lofty principles of Christ-like love. That love willingly seeks to please others not out of any sense of inferiority, not so that the object of ones sacrifice will accept the lover, but simply because that is what authentic love does. Christ-like love never calulates to what end shall love be exercised?
Part of maturity is moving away from legalistic laws which may have governed the immature child and adolescent, towards relationship, towards reciprocal love. Maturity internalizes the law, acknowledging such law as the heart of God. One internalizes the desires of the Lord's heart in ones own heart. The law becomes, as the prophet said, written on our hearts.
New Covenant people have learned to honor His purposes and His heart. Process is the key word. This kind of maturity is a lifelong process that draws one closer to God and closer to others as they risk sharing their journey with significant other people. This is not a solo journey. God placed his disciples in a group of fellow travelers called His church. How urgent the need for others who exhibit and illustrate the love of Christ, the goal of which is, in the process of loving one another, to simultaneously pour one's love on Jesus. To give a cup of water to others is to give refreshment to Jesus! It is this kind of adult love that can truly bear one another's burdens, without it becoming an unbearable burden.
Saint Paul writes in this manner, that as a child, he spoke as a child, understood as a child, behaved as a child. But now one is to put away childish things, one of which, is building protective walls. Authentic love, risks loving again when hurt. One of Paul's crowning jewels of ministry is that everywhere he went he collected money for famine relief in Jerusalem. This was the very location of so many Jewish believers and non-believers who followed him from place to place and persecuted him mercilessly! What a magnificent illustration of the all-encompassing love of Christ. So let it be illustrated in every disciple's life. What a difference it would make in the world if having freely received the Love of Christ, His disciples would love freely.