LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR: PART III'M SELFISH?
A. Introduction: We have begun to look at the issue of loving our neighbor. Jesus said the greatest commandments are love God and love your neighbor. Matt 22:37-40
1. If you do these two things, you will be doing the things God wants. To sin is to step outside of love.
2. God wants to demonstrate Himself through His children -- His character and His power.
a. One of the ways God wants to do this is through us loving others. John 13:34,35
b. The love that He has shown us, He wants us to show to others.
c. God has shown us AGAPE love. God has not dealt with us or treated us based on who we are and what we have done, but on the basis of who He is and what He has done.
1. He didn't deal with us as we deserved. We don't deserve His love. 2. It came to us in spite of use because of Him and His character.
3. That love desires our good. It is selfless.
d. That is the love with which we are to love others.
e. Because God loved us, we love Him and others. I John 4:19; Rom 5:5
3. Here are some characteristics of that love:
a. Matt 22:39--We are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
b. Luke 6:32-34--We are to love those who can't / won't return it.
c. Luke 6:31; Matt 7:12--We are to treat others as we want to be treated.
d. Luke 6:35; Matt 5:44--We are to love our enemies.
e. Rom 12:19-21--We are not to retaliate or get revenge.
f. Eph 4:32--We are to forgive others as Christ forgave us.
g. John 13:34; Eph 5:2--We are to love each others as Christ loved us.
4. These are some key facts you must know in order to walk in this kind of love.
a. You must know that you can love this way because you are a new creature, and God's love is in you. Gal 5:22; Rom 5:5
b. You must know that this love is not a feeling, but rather an action based on a decision you make abut how you are going to treat someone.
c. You must know that like and love are not the same thing. We are not called to like everyone, but we are called to love everyone.
d. You must remember that your standing with God is not based on your failures or successes in this area.
5. Jesus said we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In this lesson, we want to look at some issues connected with self in order to help us love others.
B. At the root of every sin is focus on self, exalting self, self-centeredness, or selfishness.
1. We are born with a disposition to do it our way = selfishness. Isa 53:6
a. We inherit that sin nature from Adam our rebel father who followed the advice of the first rebel, satan. Eph 2:1-3
b. The essence of a child's nature (before the new birth) is selfishness = focused on self. Prov 22:15 (fool = self-focused one)
2. The only thing that will correct this is a decision to turn away from self and turn toward God and others.
a. Repent = to change one's mind; turn around; change course. You turn from living for self to living for God.
b. Jesus died for our sins so we would no longer live for ourselves. II Cor 5:15
3. Jesus calls us to deny self. Matt 16:24
a. Self denial means giving up your will for God's will.
b. General level = I'll be a missionary to China if that is what you want.
c. Specific level = I won't inflict my mood on everyone else, and I'll praise you, Lord, until I get out of it because that is what you want me to do according to your word.
4. After we are born again, the focus on self doesn't automatically go away.
a. We have recognized and dealt with one area where we are focused on our way rather than God's way, but there are hundreds of other areas which must be exposed and dealt with.
b. Our mind, emotions, and body are not directly affected by the new birth -- they are still trained and fully devoted to self.
c. We must now get our mind renewed and bring our emotions and body in line with God's word. Rom 12:2
d. We must expose areas where we put self first -- before God and our fellow man and make a conscious decision to turn from them.
5. You may say: I'm not selfish; I'm a nice person; I do good for people.
a. Selfishness can motivate us to be bad, but it can motivate us to be good. b. We have to be brutally honest about our motive for "doing good".
c. Often, we are kind / good to people, not because we desire their good above all, but because we desire the feedback and praise that will come to us. Matt 6:1-4; Luke 10:38-42; Luke 21:2
d. How do you know if you do that?
1. Do you let others know about the good you've done?
2. Do you get hurt or angry if you don't get the response /feedback you desire?
3. The most basic cause of anger and frustration = it didn't go my way.
6. We have a mistaken idea that we must love ourselves before we can love others.
a. According to Jesus, we already love ourselves. Matt 22:39
1. You may feel bad about yourself; you may not like certain things about yourself, but you love yourself.
2. The focus is on you. Self is first = you love yourself. (suicide = selfish) 3. I'm no good; I'm rotten; I'm unworthy; I'm etc. The focus is on you!!
b. Eph 5:29--No man hates his own flesh, "but feeds it and cares for it."(NIV)
1 Everyone takes care of themselves=eats, sleeps, comes out of the rain. 2. People do abuse their bodies and do things that are harmful to themselves, but they do it because they think that is what is best for them. They're deceived.
c. The care we give ourselves may be warped through deception, but the focus is still on self and on doing what we think is best for us.
7. We are self-centered. That is not an insult.
a. It simply means we are focused on ourselves, attentive to ourselves, attune to ourselves, trying to figure ourselves out, providing for ourselves, caring for ourselves, etc.
b. To love someone as yourself means to put the focus on the other person.
C. How do you put the focus on another person?
1. Jesus told us how. He said to treat other people the way you want to be treated. Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31
2. In the areas of relationships, we can't make a list of "do's" and "dont's" for specific situations. There are thousands of different possibilities
a. Therefore, the Lord gives us principles to apply in specific situations.
1. AGAPE one another as I have loved you = you didn't deserve it, but I did you good. I gave of myself for you. John 13:34
2. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Matt 7:12
b. One of Jesus's main complaints with the Pharisees was that they fulfilled a list of rules, but missed the whole point. Matt 23:23
3. Rom 13:8-10--Love does no wrong to one's neighbor; it never hurts anybody. (Amp)
a. If you treat others as you want to be treated, you will not hurt them, because you don't want to be hurt.
b. To do ill to your neighbor is to be selfish = to put self first at his expense.
c. How do you know if you have done ill to your neighbor? Would you want that done to you?
4. Gal 5:14--If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will not sin.
a. v13 sets the context -- we can either serve the flesh or serve others.
b. To serve someone means to treat them the way you want to be treated.
c. An occasion to the flesh = an opportunity or excuse for selfishness. (Amp) d. The flesh is not evil, but is focused on self (desire to eat, sleep, sex, etc.)
5. You have to choose to treat the other person as you would want to be treated.
D. When self doesn't get its way, it reacts: It hurts, it retaliates (short-term), it gets revenge (long-term).
1. Why do we get hurt? That's life in a sin cursed earth.
a. Real hurt -- we are on the receiving end of someone else's selfishness; can be mild or major, accidental or purposeful.
b. Imagined hurt that really hurts -- we have unrealistic expectations which people do not meet and we get hurt. Unrealistic = they don't know about it; they can't meet it.
2. Unless the flesh is harnessed by God's word and Spirit, when we are wronged (genuine or imagined that genuinely hurts), we will retaliate and get revenge.
3. That's why the Bible tells us how to treat people -- not to set up impossible standards that take the fun out of life -- but to help us keep from sinning when we are hurt or injured. Eph 4:26
a. Matt 5:39--Turn the other cheek. (Doesn't mean let someone beat you up).
1. It means do not retaliate. Don't answer one evil with another.
2. "Do no repel one outrage by another." Adam Clarke
b. Matt 5:44--Pray for those who hurt you and bless them. Why? So you won't sin against them.
c. Eph 4:32--Forgive them = give up the right to retaliate or get revenge.
4. God does not retaliate and we are to demonstrate His love (forgive as He did)
a. I Pet 2:21-23--Jesus did not retaliate when He was wronged.
b. Luke 9:51-56--James and John wanted to call down fire.
c. But He turned and rebuked and severely censured them. He said, you do not know what sort of spirit you are. For the Son of Man...(Amp)
5. No matter why people hurt us, we must choose to treat them as we would like to be treated.
a. When I do something wrong, I want understanding and forgiveness.
b. I don't want people to hurt me back, punish me, or try to teach me a lesson. I want them to forgive and forget.
6. When you have a problem how do you want to be treated?
a. Do you want someone to listen, to understand?
b. When someone else has a problem, how do you treat them?
1. They talk too much. They are too negative. I don't want to listen.
2. I don't need the details. Just let me tell you what to do.
3. That's no big deal; get over it; deal with it.
c. You must remember, they are feeling the problem -- you're not.
1. How would you feel in that situation?
2. The situation might be a snap for you -- not because of your great faith -- but because your temperament is different.
3. You might not deal with it half as well as them.
4. They may be doing the best they can, given their temperament, level of knowledge, etc. I Cor 13:7
E. Conclusion: You must choose to treat people as you would want in the situation
1. As with anything God tells us to do, it begins with a decision: I can do this, I want to do this because God says so.
2. You must develop forethought -- think before you speak. James 1:19,20
a. Recognize we have the tendency to act based on how we feel rather than on what we believe or what is right.
b. God has given us His word and His Spirit to control this tendency.
3. What you tell yourself in the situation about you and the other person can fuel either love or anger and hurt that retaliates.
4. You have to be brutally honest with yourself.
a. Why am I doing or about to do this -- for their good or my good?
b. Is this how I'd want to be treated? How would I want to be treated?
5. Ask God to show you areas where you are focused on self.
a. Pray for those who hurt you; praise the Lord for them.
b. The one who treats others as he wants to be treated is not a door mat. He trusts God to work it all for good. Rom 8:28