Think Don't React
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR: PART IIITHINK, DON'T REACT
A. Introduction: Jesus said the two greatest commandments are love God and love your neighbor. Matt 22:37-40
1. We are to love our neighbor (love others) with the same love God has shown us. John 13:34,35
a. We don't deserve His love, yet He gave it.
b. His love kept us from getting what we do deserve.
c. His love is focused on us and desires our good. It is selfless.
2. This love does not retaliate or get revenge. It forgives. It loves those who can't or won't return the love. It loves its enemies. It treats others the way it wants to be treated.
3. In the last lesson we talked about the fact that all humans are self-focused, focused on self, self-centered, selfish. Isa 53:6
a. Jesus died to turn us away from self -- toward God and others. II Cor 5:15 b. When you come to the Lord, you repent = turn from living for self to living for God. Matt 16:24
1. Self denial means giving up your will for God's will.
2. It means making a conscious decision to learn the will of God, remember it, and do it (follow it) in the daily events of life.
c. Our minds, emotions, and body are not directly affected by the new birth -- they are still trained and fully devoted to self.
1. We must now get our mind renewed and bring our emotions and body in line with God's word. Rom 12:1,2
2. We must expose areas where we put self first -- before God and our fellow man and make a conscious decision to turn from those actions, attitudes, etc.
4. We must learn to focus on God and others.
a. How do you focus on others? By treating people the way you want to be treated. Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31
b. How do you want to be treated when you do it right, when you do it wrong, when you have a problem?
5. When self doesn't get its way it reacts. We get hurt, and we retaliate (short-term) or get revenge (long-term).
a. The Bible tells us how to treat people -- not to set up impossible standards that take the fun out of life -- but to keep us from sinning when we are hurt or injured by people.
b. Turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39); pray for and bless those who hurt you (Matt 5:44); forgive people (Eph 4:32).
6. We need to make a key point before we go any farther. As we study the subject of loving others as ourselves, taking the focus off ourselves and putting it on others, nothing is going to change automatically.
a. In other words, a bell is not suddenly going to go off now in situations where you are focused on self.
b. You're still going to feel like his problem is really stupid.
1. Why doesn't he just deal with it and shut up about it?
2. Surely he can see how stupid the issue is that he's upset about.
7. You are going to have to become aware of other people, and then choose to treat people the way you want to be treated.
8. In this lesson we want to focus on becoming aware of how we treat people
B. The love we are to love others with is not a "feeling" love, but rather, it is a love that "thinks".
1. I Cor 13:1--If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love [that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God's love for and in us], I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (Amp)
a. Notice this loves is intentional = an act of the will; a choice.
b. Notice this love is rational; it involves thinking, not reacting.
2. We need to become aware of how and why we treat others when things are going well (they are treating us okay; no conflict), and when they aren't (when there is conflict).
a. It's easy to be nice to people who are nice back to us or who don't hurt us or challenge us in any way. Matt 5: 46,47
b. However, even in that, we must consider our motives.
3. Why do you do what you do? For their good or your good?Is your focus on them?
4. When you talk to people, are you really making an effort to listen or are you waiting for them to take a breath so you can talk?
a. No matter what they say, do you turn it around to something about you?
b. Do you tune people out because you aren't interested? Is that how you want to be treated?
c. Do you make people the butt of jokes or cutting remarks -- and everyone has a "good laugh"?
5. Even if you aren't in a fight with someone, even if all seems pleasant, it doesn't necessarily mean you are walking in love -- the love that is not focued on self.
a. Maybe the only one who knows you are focused on you is you and God.
b. Maybe what you said didn't cause a fight, but why did you say it?
1. To prove you are right?
2. To make yourself look good and or others look bad?
3. To make yourself feel better and them feel bad?
4. To be in control?
5. To be seen of men?
6. To have the last word?
7. To have the satisfaction of having told them?
c. Notice, the focus in all of these is self.
d. Prov 12:18--Some people like to make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise can soothe and heal. (Living)
6. I Cor 13:5--(Love) is not conceited -- arrogant and inflated with pride; it is not rude (unmannerly), and does not act unbecomingly. Love [God's love in us] does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; (Amp)
7. Phil 2:3,4--Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing. (Living)
8. All of this takes thought; forethought = think before you speak or act.
a. Prov 15:28--A good man thinks before he speaks; the evil man pours out his evil words without a thought. (Living)
b. You have to think before you act or speak. James 1:19,20
1. Is the focus on me and my good? Why am I doing this?
2. How would I want to be treated? What would I want said to me?
9. I Pet 3:7--Husbands are told to dwell with wives according to knowledge.
a. The marriage relationship is supposed to be a picture of the way Christ loves the Church. We are to love as Christ loved.
b. Husbands are told to take the focus off of themselves by having knowledge (knowing things) about their wives.
c. I Pet 3:7--You husbands must be careful of your wives, thoughtful of their needs and honoring them as the weaker sex. (Living)
d. One of the ways Christ loves us and we are to love others is to be aware of the needs of others. Matt 10:30; 6:32
D. Jesus, in His love, laid down His life for His friends. John 15:13
1. We are told to love the same way. I John 3:16
a. We think of that in these terms: I'd take a bullet for you, man.
b. But, are you willing to not talk about your problem today so that he can talk about his? Or are you willing to not make everyone else miserable because you are in a bad mood?
c. v17--Defines laying down your life. A brother has a need that you can meet and you meet it.
2. When we talk like this, it immediately brings up questions such as: Won't I get used up by meeting the needs of others? What about me and my needs? My boundaries? Won't I get taken advantage of? Can't you go overboard in being nice to people?
a. We all get taken advantage of at some point or another whether we are loving or not. That's life in a sin cursed earth.
b. That's why we can't make a list of "dos" and "donts" as far as how to treat people. We can only learn general principle.
1. Realize that you are naturally self focused and you must choose to look away from yourself toward others.
2. You have to think about their needs and then treat them the way you would want to be treated.
c. Yes, but no one ever returns it. I'm the one who does all the giving.
1. That's probably not true. You've set up unrealistic expectations which people haven't met (they either didn't know or couldn't do), and you are overlooking what they have done.
2. If it is true, that's God's problem and their problem.
3. The Bible wasn't written to tell them how to treat you, but rather to tell you how to treat them.
d. You can give all you have and still not have any love. It's not the giving, it's why you are giving. I Cor 13:3
3. Most people who overdue in the area of giving (time, effort, etc.), it isn't because they are selfless, but rather selfish.
a. They want people to like them, approve
of them. They want God to bless them. That's why they do what they do.
b. Their motive is their own good, not the good of others.
4. Once again, we can look to Martha and her giving in Luke 10:38-42
a. No doubt, part of what she did was to be helpful, but mixed in there was a desire for recognition (focus on self). We know that because of her reaction when she didn't get what she wanted.
b. Jesus commended Mary -- the one who wasn't doing anything for anyone. But, her focus was off of herself and on Jesus. v42
5. Jesus took time to be alone with His Father -- yet there were still needs to be met. Mark 1:35
6. The good Samaritan is an example of giving. Luke 10:25-37
a. A lawyer (theologian) tempted Jesus and tried to justify himself. v25-29
b. In answer, Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan. v30-35
c. A neighbor is one who is in need, whose need I know, and have the ability to meet. A neighbor is also one who shows mercy.
d. Notice, the Samaritan did what he could for the man and went on his way. He didn't give all his money, his career, his life, etc. for the injured man.
7. It's about motive. You can appear to be generous and helpful, but your whole focus is on self.
E. Conclusion: The love we are called to love with thinks rather than just reacts.
1. We have to choose to take the focus off ourselves and put it on others. We need to think in these terms:
a. This person's life, time, needs, problems are just as real and important to him as mine are to me. Is there a way I can help meet his need?
b. How would I want to be treated if I were them, in that situation?
2. This is what God says:
a. Phil 2:3,4--Each of you must have the humility to think others better men than himself, and study the welfare of others, not his own. (Knox)
b. Col 3:12,13--You are God's chosen people, holy and well beloved; the livery you wear must be tender compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. You must bear with one another's faults, be generous to each other, where somebody had given grounds for complaint; the Lord's generosity to you must be the model of yours. (Knox)
c. Eph 4:32--And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. (Amp)
d. Gal 5:13--For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another. (Amp)
3. How do you answer the arguments of self? Who'll take care of me? How will my needs get met?
a. If you learn to walk in this kind of love, you will be obeying God.
b. You won't come up short obeying Him.