“What Jesus Demands From The World” – Daily Devotional (7/10/10): Demand #33 “Love Your Neighbor With The Same Commitment You Have To Your Own Well-Being”

Matthew 22:39

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Love your Neighbor as yourself” is a very radical command. What I mean by “radical” is that it cuts to the root of our sinfulness and exposes it and by God’s grace severs it… The root of our sinfulness is the desire for our own happiness apart from God and apart from the happiness of others in God. I mean that to be read carefully… All sin comes from a desire to be happy cut off from the glory of God and cut off from the good of others. The command of Jesus cuts to this root, exposes it, and severs it. Another name for this root of sinfulness is pride. Pride is the presumption that we can be happy without depending on God as the source of our happiness and without caring if others find their happiness in God. Pride is the contaminated and corrupted passion to be happy. It is corrupted by two things: (1) the unwillingness to see God as the only fountain of true and lasting joy, and (2) the unwillingness to see other people as designed by God to share our joy in him. If you take the desire to be happy and strip away from it God as the fountain of your happiness and strip from it people as the ones you hope will share your happiness in God, what you have left is the engine of pride. Pride is the pursuit of happiness anywhere but in the glory of God and the good of other people for God’s sake. This is the root of all sin.

Now Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And with that commandment he cuts to the root of our sinfulness. How so? Jesus says in effect: “I start with your inborn, deep, defining human trait— your love for yourself. My command is, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ You love yourselves. This is a given. I don’t command it; I assume it.  All of you have a powerful instinct of self-preservation and self-fulfillment. You all want to be happy. You all want to live, and to live with satisfaction. You want food for yourself. You want clothes for yourself. You want a place to live for yourself. You want protection from violence against yourself. You want meaningful or pleasant activity to fill your days. You want some friends to like you and spend some time with you. You want your life to count in some way. All this is self-love. Self-love is the deep longing to diminish pain and to increase happiness.” That’s what Jesus starts with when he says “as yourself (pg. 256-257).”

“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—with the same zeal and energy and creativity and perseverance. And with 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 (pg. 259).”


Pastor Josh

Published in: on July 10, 2010 at 10:00 AM  Leave a Comment  

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