This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Interacting Well”.
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Matthew 7:12-14 (MSG)
12 “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get. 13 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 14 The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.
Mark 12:30 (NIV)
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.’
We have looked at loving God with all our heart (the control panel) and loving God with all our soul (our personality and emotions) and loving God with all our mind (the message of the Bible, the cross, salvation, is sound, consistent, is a logical, reasonable, consistent system of truth based on eyewitness testimony) and loving God with all our strength (living by trying to do the next right thing).
Now we are going to start discussing the second part of this great commandment.
Mark 12:31 (NIV)
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
1. How to love our neighbors as ourselves
This week will serve as an overview for the next several weeks. I want to take time to look at what it means to love ourselves and what it means to love our neighbors. Today I want to set a little foundation in place to discuss these ideas in the weeks ahead.
One of the ways that we love ourselves is that we take care of ourselves. If we are hungry, we get something to eat. If we have a need we try and meet it. If we are treated badly we think it is unfair and try and do something about it. We do these things because we are thinking about ourselves. It is a part of who we are. It is our nature to walk through this life with ourselves at the center of the universe.
What Jesus wants us to learn from this is that when we are hungry we begin to realize that others are hungry. When we have needs we realize that others have needs. When we are treated badly we become aware that others are also being treated badly.
We need to learn to be as concerned about others as we are about ourselves.
2. Our love for people is evidence that we truly love God.
Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is evidenced in and by our love for others.
1 John 3:14 (NIV)
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Love one another. It is repeated three times in this passage. Jesus said this was the way people will know we are His disciples. Think about that. How we love. That is a big deal. People will know we are followers of Jesus by how well we love.
A good way to get started loving well is by living …
3. The Golden Rule
Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Love in the Kingdom of God is different than love in the world. A mainstay in our society is the idea that I will treat you the way that you treat me. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your. If you are nice to me, I will be nice to you. This way of doing things is an important part of what keeps our society intact. However, as the people of the Kingdom of God, we have a different standard. We are to treat people the way we want to be treated. By that I mean we are to initiate love, not just respond to it. We are to be kind to everyone, not just to the people that are kind to us. It is a completely different concept than the one that most of us are used to. We treat others right, regardless of how they treat us. All of us probably need to take a pretty good look at how well we are doing in this area of our lives. I would guess that we are way more influenced by “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” than we are the “golden rule”.
Fortunately, Jesus is our model for life and ministry. He shows us how to live in relationship with God and others. To live out the golden rule we need to follow His lead and
a. Do what He did (does)
John 14:12 (NIV)
12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
b. See what He saw (sees)
Matthew 9:36 (NIV)
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
c. Think as He thought (thinks)
Philippians 2:5 (NIV)
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
d. Serve as He served (serves)
Mark 10:45 (NIV)
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
e. Love as He loved (loves)
John 13:34 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
Things look a lot different His way. I will end with this little illustration about how we tend to look at life with a pretty narrow self focus and perspective. When you look at a photograph of a group of people, which includes you, do you know how you determine whether or not you think it is a good picture? How you look. If you look good, it’s a good picture. If you look bad it’s a bad picture. That is our self focus. Life is not based on or found in how we look, but in living for Him. Loving God, loving others and loving ourselves.