What gives life and living greatest meaning? Is it not having meaningful and loving relationships? To be loved and to have someone to love is what makes life worth the living. How many people are desperately alone and isolated because they have not been able to navigate the spiritual and emotional waters of a fallen sinful nature?
At birth, we come into this world handicapped because of sin. The essence of sin is selfishness at the expense of God and everyone else. As a father of six and a grandfather of twelve, it is quite evident my prodigy take after the sinful nature of their grandmother……(hee! hee!)……. and yes, their grandpa too! No human is really fit or capable to have a constructive relationship with another until self is tamed. People without Christ recognize in order to survive in civilized society there has to be a social contract about what is acceptable or not. So, people without Christ can be polite, generous, and even seem to behave better than some Christians I know. But there is a problem with this model in that it is still based upon what is best for self. We can see this on social media by how quickly social civility can erupt into fistfights in airports and trampling over people on the opening of a Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Human civility is not the same thing as true love and is based upon conditions. If the conditions change, the attitude can quickly regress into a posture which will defend self at all costs even to the extremes of abusive language, physical violence, and yes, in some cases murder.
What distinguishes the Christian in his treatment of others (at least what should be true) is the motivation for why he or she would follow the “golden rule”. It is simply stated in the four-letter word love. In fact, true love should be devoid of self-interest. Paul said it this way, “Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem (love) other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Philippians 2:2-4).
If you or I claim to be a Christian, there is only one acceptable motive and it is exemplified by an immutable example in Jesus Christ. Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If Christ loves you and me, sinners even before we are saved, where does that leave us in our treatment of others?
1 John 2:7-11 “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.”
Who you loving on, self or others?
Because of His Love,
Pastor John Schofield