He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Love Your Neighbor AS You Love Yourself
".... He commands, "As you love yourself, so love your neighbor." Which means: As you long for food when you are hungry, so long to feed your neighbor when he is hungry. As you long for nice clothes for yourself, so long for nice clothes for your neighbor. As you work for a comfortable place to live, so desire a comfortable place to live for your neighbor. As you seek to be safe and secure from calamity and violence, so seek comfort and security for your neighbor. As you seek friends for yourself, so be a friend to your neighbor. As you want your life to count and be significant, so desire that same significance for your neighbor. As you work to make good grades yourself, so work to help your neighbor make good grades. As you like to be welcomed into strange company, so welcome your neighbor into strange company. As you would that men would do to you, do so to them.
In other words make your self-seeking the measure of your self-giving. When Jesus says, "Love your neighbor as yourself," the word "as" is very radical: "Love your neighbor as yourself." That's a BIG word: "As!" It means: If you are energetic in pursing your own happiness, be energetic in pursuing the happiness of your neighbor. If you are creative in pursuing your own happiness, be creative in pursuing the happiness of your neighbor. If you are persevering in pursuing your own happiness, be persevering in pursuing the happiness of your neighbor. In other words, Jesus is not just saying: seek for your neighbor the same things you seek for yourself, but also seek them in the same way—the same zeal and energy and creativity and perseverance. The same life and death commitment when you are in danger. Make your own self-seeking the measure of your self-giving. Measure your pursuit of the happiness of others, and what it should be, by the pursuit of your own. How do you pursue your own well-being? Pursue your neighbor's well-being that way too.
Now this is very threatening and almost overwhelming. Because we feel immediately that if we take Jesus seriously, we will not just have to love others "as we love ourselves," but we will have to love them "instead of loving ourselves." That's what it seems like. We fear that if we follow Jesus in this, and really devote ourselves to pursuing the happiness of others, then our own desire for happiness will always be preempted. The neighbor's claim on my time and energy and creativity will always take priority. So the command to love my neighbor as I love myself really feels like a threat to my own self-love. How is this even possible? If there is born in us a natural desire for our own happiness, and if this is not in itself evil, but good, how can we give it up and begin only to seek the happiness of others at the expense of our own?"
I have been feeling so exhausted lately...and I have been really trying to ask the LORD to help me understand how I am feeling at this moment..its so hard giving your life away...I must die to live and that aint easy...Sanctification is very exhausting..but I was encouraged this morning by hearing that the LORD will not command us to do anything that HIS grace does not give the power to obey...we as believers are dead to sin and alive to God through the death, burial, and resurrection of our SAVIOR....knowing that I am able to love my husband, my child and my community as I love myself...PLEASE TAKE the time whenever you can to listen or read this sermon from Piper. I know alot of people do not like to listen to Piper in times of adversity, but i want to encourage you to embrace the truth and trust the LORD to do a work in you! To GOD BE THE GLORY friends!!