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.
“play the braggart”
This is the only place in the Bible we find this particular word. It conveys the idea of feeling superior to others and looking at them with contempt or disdain. It involves boasting about the qualities in my life that I view as superior to others.
This morning we’re going to look at the account of one of many times where Jesus exercised love that did not envy or boast. It’s found in chapter 10 of Mark’s gospel and I’ll begin reading in verse 35.
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”