Summary: When I love like Jesus loves I set aside my rights to make things right for others
Whether or not you were alive on January 20, 1961, you are probably familiar with this line from President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address:
Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.
I don’t think that as a nation we’ve done a very good job of heeding those words, which is why our country has added over 18 trillion dollars in debt over the last 55 years – much of it to pay for the ever increasing list of things that people ask the country to do for them.
We now live under an unsustainable system where 60% of the people in this country receive back more in benefits from the federal government than they pay in federal taxes and where only those with the top 20% of incomes pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits. As long as that imbalance continues, our country will just continue to rack up more and more debt and eventually that will lead to an economic collapse.
And frankly I’m not real optimistic that we’ll ever turn that around because people have gotten so used to getting what they can from their country rather than thinking about what they can give. Politicians from both parties may give lip service to the problem but very few are really serious about it because they know that taking things away from people who have them now will cost them votes.
Unfortunately, that “me-first” attitude seems to have spilled over into all of our personal relationships as well. Our natural tendency is to try and use other people in order to benefit us rather than to think about what we can do to benefit others. And the only antidote to that kind of thinking is to look at the way Jesus loves and to make a conscious effort to follow His example in all our relationships. That is certainly not easy, but I’m convinced that the results are certainly worth the effort.
This morning we’re going to follow the same pattern we established last week. So once again throughout the message I’m going to suggest some practical action steps for all of us to consider and I’m going to ask everyone to commit to taking at least one of these steps in response to this message.
Let’s begin in 1 Corinthians 13, with the second phrase that Paul uses to describe Biblical love:
…love does not envy or boast…
(1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV)
Once again Paul describes love using verbs because love requires action. But this time, he tells us what love is not. So before we take a look at one example of where Jesus loved like this, let’s take a moment to define the terms Paul uses here:
“to be eager for”
That term can be used in either a positive or negative manner. In fact, Paul uses it several other times in this letter where it is translated “earnestly desire” when he writes about spiritual gifts. But here, it clearly has a negative connotation. Paul uses it to describe a situation when a person frets because of the real or perceived superiority of another person. Rather than delighting in the welfare of another, the person who envies desires to diminish what the other person has, often by taking that for himself.