Summary: Message about putting the needs of others ahead of your own.
Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself (Part 2)
February 14, 2010
I mentioned last week that the idea of loving your neighbor as yourself is contrary to the idea that the world wants us to buy into, and that is that we should each look out for ourselves ahead of others.
All of us struggle with that, not necessarily because of the world’s view, but because we’ve inherited that tendency toward selfishness right from Adam and Eve.
I don’t care who you are, there are times when you are happy to put yourself ahead of someone else and put your comfort and your convenience ahead of someone else’s.
And if you don’t think so, then you suffer from blindness caused by something else we all struggle with – arrogant pride.
I do it, you do it.
And yet we have this command from Jesus that says we’re supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves.
And that means putting the needs of others ahead of our own.
Okay – so we have this command of God to love others as we love ourselves, but we have this inherited propensity for selfishness fueled by our popular media.
What can we do to overcome our natural tendency to look out for number one and put others in that spot?
How can we move on from selfishness to servanthood in a way that makes a real difference in our own lives and in the lives of others?
God: The Bible gives us some really very practical advice on how to do that.
And the passage we’re going to look at shows us once again how down-to-earth and practical the Scriptures are, that they deal with the everyday stuff that you and I go through every day of our lives.
But before we get into the passage we’re going to look at today, I want us to revisit the foundational passage we’ve been looking at since the first Sunday in January.
29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
The premise I’ve been working from during these past weeks is that we love others best when we love God the most.
So we spent January talking about how to love God as we should, and last week we started looking at how we can love others as ourselves by looking at Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, and how he overcame racial, religious, financial, and other barriers to be a neighbor to a wounded stranger.
Today we look at a passage from the book of Philippians, written by the apostle Paul while he was under house arrest.
Philippians 2:1-11 (p. 831) –
I’m going to be talking a bit as we go through this passage, so be ready for some interruptions as we read it.
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
I wish we had time to stop and talk about these first two verses, because it lays a great groundwork for what’s coming, but we need to move on to what the focus of our time today will be, and that is on the next three verses.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
So those three verses are where we’re going to be focusing, but I don’t want to ignore the rest of this passage, because without it, we don’t have a basis for understanding the attitude Paul says we should have in verse 5, so let’s finish this passage, which is one of the greatest passages we have to point to in regard to three things – the dual nature of Jesus (being both God and man), the humility of Jesus, and the future exaltation of Jesus at the end of time.
These verses serve to underscore what Paul wants the Philippians and you and me to understand regarding the attitude we need to adopt if we’re going to love our neighbor as ourselves, so let’s read the rest of this passage:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.