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Lesson 15: The Golden Rule Of Relationships (Matthew 7:1-12)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       This section is about relationships.  Sin has so infected us, and jacked up our relationships, and Jesus zeros in on it in this section.

b.      It’s actually a tricky section of Scripture, in terms of outlining.

c.       The logical connection between these paragraphs are tough to see at first.

i.  “What does judging people have to do with prayer and what does that have to do with the Golden rule?”

ii.                        Some people think Matthew is just cutting and pasting things together...

iii.                      Some people see this sermon as a collection of sermons with little relation to no relation to each other.

d.      I think the best way to view this passage (7:1-12) is to view it through the lens of verse 12.

e.       He is dealing with relationships in these 12 verses.  The Golden Rule of Relationships.

f.        I see the first six verses focusing on the negative aspects of a self-righteous, judgmental spirit.  And the next six verses, 7-12, focus on an attitude that is humble, trusting, and loving, like the Golden Rule.

g.      What is the Golden Rule?

i.  The golden rule not only summaraizes our passage, it summarizes the Sermon on the Mount.  And it not only summarizes the Sermon on the Mount, it summarizes the Law and the Prophets.

ii.                        It’s the end of the section (inclusio) that started in Mat. 5:17.

II.                      The Golden Rule Gone Wrong (7:1-6).

a.      Don’t be a judge (7:1-2).

i.  Don’t be like the Pharisees, who judge.

1.      The Pharisees were hypocritical, self-righteous, and arrogant.

2.      Their motive was not to help people, or love people, but to condemn them.

3.      Key point: What Jesus is forbidding is this Pharisaical, self-righteous, hasty, unmerciful, prejudiced critisism.

4.      The critical spirit.

5.      It’s the opposite of someone who is poor in spirit and meek.  A peacemaker.

ii.                        Judging put ourselves in the place of God (7:1-2).

1.      When we Judge we are putting ourselves in God’s place.

2.      When we judge, we are acting like God.

3.      But we are not the Judge, we are the judged.

4.      Jesus is telling his disciples to resist the temptation to put yourself in the place of God.  It’s crazy.

5.      Don’t be a self-righteous critic.  It’s nonesense.

6.      We are not superiour to others.

7.      When we judge we are placing ourselves above others.

8.      If we don’t practice what we preach...

iii.                      Illustration:

1.      By the very nature of the business, L.A. County traffic cops receive plenty of complaints about their work. After all, most motorists don't think they deserve a ticket. Each complaint gets documented and placed in the officer's personnel file.

2.      But, surprisingly, over the past 20 years, L.A. Sheriff's Deputy Elton Simmons has made over 25,000 traffic stops and cited thousands of motorists with traffic violations without a single complaint on his record. When his supervisor Captain Pat Maxwell started looking through Simmons' file, he was stunned. Maxwell found plenty of commendations but not a single complaint.

3.      It was such a shocking story that a CBS News crew was assigned to follow Simmons in an attempt to learn his secret. First, they noticed Simmons' "pitch-perfect mix of authority and diplomacy" without a trace of arrogance or self-righteousness. Of course Simmons still hands out plenty of tickets; they just don't come with the standard guilt trip.

4.      Here's how Simmons described his approach: "I'm here with you. I'm not up here" (he motions his arm up towards the sky). One thing I hate is to be looked down on—I can't stand it—so I'm not going to look down at you."

5.      A driver who got a ticket from Simmons agreed. The driver said, "You know what it is, it's his smile. How could you be mad at that guy?"

6.      "Apparently, you can't," concluded the CBS News team. "Time after time, ticket after ticket, we saw Officer Simmons melt away a polar ice cap of preconceptions. And his boss [claims] there's a lesson in there for hard-nosed cops everywhere."

iv.                      Don’t put yourself “Up here!”

1.      We watch the news and we comment on the “stupid” people.

2.      We read a political article and note “how ignorant people are.”

3.      Waiter spills your food, “incompotent waiter.”

4.      We natually think more of ourselves than we ought!

v.                         What this does NOT mean:

1.      This has got to be one of the most well-known, most quoted verses in the world.

2.      AND...one of the most misused, taken out of context, verses. Ever.

3.      This verse does not mean we are not to use discernment.

4.      This verse does not mean we are to never criticize anything.

5.      The world today loves this verse because they see it as a pass for their wickedness.

6.      They think they are clever when they quote Scripture as a justification for their own behavior.

7.      How many of us have been in a conversation when we are talking with an unbeliever and they quote this verse like its a trump card.

b.      Jesus’ Disciples are called to test everything!

i.  Use your brain and use God’s Word.

1.      “The biggest problem in the church today is a lack of discernment.” MacArthur.

ii.                        How do we test? 

1.      With Scripture.

2.      Acts 17:11, “{The Bereans} received the word daily with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

iii.                      A few years ago I mentioned the Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley.

1.      A self-proclaimed miracle worker.

2.      He kicks people in the face and says God told him to do it.

3.      I watched a sermon where he literally kneed a man with a cancerous tumor in the gut because God told him to do it.

4.      He cusses and runs around the stage.  It’s sick.

5.      Almost ANYTHING goes in these churches except rational truth and Bible exposition.

6.      Heb. 13:9, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings…”

7.      “We increase our scrutiny of people like Hugh Hefner, and we decrease our evaluation of people like {Todd Bentley} just because he comes in the name of Jesus,” Tullian Tchividjian told The Good News. “Hugh Hefner is not nearly as dangerous to the church as someone like this.”  “I would pay much more attention to those people who have stood the test of time. I would pay very little attention to anyone who comes and says, ‘God told me something that he’s never told anyone else, and you can’t find it in the Bible.’ It’s a lie, it’s that simple.”

iv.                      Leadership Magazine:

1.      Interviewed a very influential pastor.  Asked him all kinds of questions about his ministry and the types of churches they are producing.

2.      This influential pastor said, “If people aren’t laughing within the first five minutes of coming in to the building we have failed.”

a.       Really?

b.      Blessed are those who mourn…

c.       Self proclaimed pragmatist—“if it brings people in, it must be of God.”

d.      Unapologetically building the “ministry” with entertainment.

3.      Is entertainment how we should build the Church?

v.                         Christians ARE to discern and evaluate. (Not in a self-righteous way, but in Berean way.)

1.      Jesus commanded that we judge false teachers and false teaching.

a.       Mat. 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

b.      We are called to expose false teaching and false teachers.  The wolves who sneak in.

2.      The apostles of Jesus commanded that we judge false teaching and false teachers.

a.       Gal. 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

b.      2 John 2:10-11, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”

c.       1 Thess. 5:21, “...but test everything; hold fast what is good.”

i.  This flies in the face of many churches that discourage doubt, discourage evaluation.  Where testing everything is seen as a “lack of faith.”

3.      Paul rebukes the Corinthian church for not judging sin.

a.       1 Cor. 5:11-13, “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

b.      Paul is rebuking the Corinthian Church because they had become passive and because they DIDN’T judge!

4.      Jesus tells his disciples to confront sin.

a.       Mat. 18:15-17, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

5.      Mat. 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

a.       It’s somewhat ironic that the passage on “not judging” is immediately followed by a verse that says to “judge the dogs and pigs.”

b.      We are commanded to discern and judge the pigs and the dogs!

c.       Don’t be gullible (7:6).

i.  Jesus swings to the other extreme here.

1.      He warns His disciples against be critics like the Pharisees.

2.      But then He warns from the opposite extreme of being a gullible sucker.

3.      Both problems still exist by the way.

ii.                        Dogs:

1.      Dog’s in Jesus’ day were not pets.

2.      The thought of sacrificing a holy sacrifice of a Bull and then taking part of that holy sacrifice and throwing it to the dogs to eat, would be the height of desecration.

iii.                      Pigs:

1.      Were unclean.  Jews hated pigs.

2.      Antiochus Epiphanes desectrated the Temple by placing a pig on the altar.

3.      Both dogs and pigs were unclean and were scavengers.

4.      If you came between them and their food, you would get trampled.Jesus gives a balance to this teaching on self-righteous judgmentalism, when He exhorts His disciples to have discernment.

5.      If you threw your pearls before a pig, he wouldn’t recognize its value.

6.      God’s Holy Word is like a string of pearls.

iv.                      It’s noteworthy that Jesus did not always give all of His teaching to everyone.

1.      He spoke in parables to reveal the truth to those had ears to hear, and to conceal it from the self-righteous.

2.      When the gospel is mocked, the Word of God is abhored, and people refuse to listen, then you stop sharing the gospel.

3.      You stop casting the pearls of God before the swine.

4.      It may be time to take the pearls of God elsware.

5.      Plenty of people need the pearls.

6.      Plenty of people are willing to handle the pearls and think about the pearls and talk about the pearls.

7.      Showcase the pearls to them.

v.                         This doesn’t mean we stop praying for the hard-hearted.

vi.                      This doesn’t mean we stop loving the hard-hearted.

vii.                    This doesn’t mean we don’t try to show the pearls to our neighbors and friends and co-workers!  We do!

viii.                  But when antagonism comes, take the pearls to the poor in spirit, not the pig in spirit.

ix.                      The Two Extremes:

1.      One extreme is that we are gullible, spineless, and naive.

2.      The other extreme is that we are self-righteous critics who look down our noses at others.

3.      Neither extreme brings about the Goldren Rule.

d.      Don’t be a self-righteous hypocrite (7:3-5).

i.  Jesus humerously illustrates hypocrisy with the speck and the log.

1.      Jesus has already warned of hypocrisy (6:1-18)

a.       The clasic warning is in Luke 18:11.

b.      When you have a high view of yourself, you have a low view of others.

2.      Hypocrites can’t see reality!

ii.                        Jesus is saying that self-righteousness leads to a faulty view of ourselves (7:3-5).

1.      We can’t see the giant log in ourselves!

2.      We are blind to our own sinfulness!

3.      So the self-righteous person rejects the gospel because they don’t believe they need it.

4.      Meanwhile they are annoyed with the petty sins of others!

5.      If you are here today and you sense no real need for Christ, then you have a giant log in your eye and you don’t even know it.

e.       So what do we do?  What’s the solution?

III.                   Application: Apply the Beatitudes!

a.       I want to do a little review here, because this is direct application for how NOT to be a judge.

i.  The opposite of this judgmental critical hypocrisy is someone who is poor in spirit, mournful, and meek.  Someone who is a peacemaker!

ii.                        So, the application for NOT being judgmental. 

iii.                      For not being a self-righteous critic comes back to the Beatitiudes.

b.      If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to be poor in spirit.

i.  Do you feel entitled?  Then you are not poor in spirit.

ii.                        Do you feel like God owes you?  Then you are not poor in spirit.

iii.                      Have you repented, and do you continually repent?  Then you are not poor in spirit.

1.      “When a Christian sees prostitutes, alcoholics, prisoners, drug addicts, unwed mothers, the homeless, refugees, he knows that he is looking in a mirror. Perhaps the Christian spent all of his life as a respectable middle-class person. No matter. He thinks, Spiritually I was just like these people, though physically and socially I never was where they are now. They are outcasts. (Spiritually speaking) I was an outcast.”  Tim Keller, Ministries of Mercy (P & R Publishing, 2007), p. 60.

c.       If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to mourn. (Blessed are those who mourn)

i.  We mourn and lament because of our own sin.

1.      Just examine yourself against the Word.

2.      Examine yourself in light of the Scriptures and what Jesus and the apostles expect.

3.      If you are not immediately led to mourning, there is something very wrong.

4.      Sins of omission and sins of commission:

a.       What are the things I did and said today that were sinful?

b.      What are the things I didn’t do and say?

c.       The list begins to pile up and it’s depressing.

d.      There is something in me that is prone to wander.

e.       I am conflicted in myself.  There is a war inside me.

f.        This causes the Christian to mourn.

5.      This takes a little of the swagger out of our judgmentalism!

ii.                        We mourn and lament because of the sins of other people.

1.      We see other Christians in sin, and it makes us mourn.

2.      We see people ruining their lives with sin, and it hurts.

3.      We see the affects of sin and how is destroys lives and ruins relationships and makes people miserable and relationships estranged, and we lament.

iii.                      We mourn and lament because of the world’s sin and its lostness.

1.      The world is in state of darkness.

2.      Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers and people are deceived.

3.      Billions of people live in misery.  Not physically impoverished, but spiritually impoverished and dead and miserable and wicked.

4.      And sin is compounded on sin and misery is multiplied.

5.      If you don’t lament your sin, if you don’t grieve over your sin, you are not born again and you are not part of the kingdom.**

d.      If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to be meek:

i.  This person is humbled.  Happy to be a servant. 

ii.                        Not easily offended.  Not sensitive and always getting hurt.  Because he views himself in a low regard.

iii.                      Who I am anyway?  I’m just happy to be part of the family of God.  I’m just happy to be a servant.

iv.                      Nobody can overly-offend him or hurt him our crush him, because the cross has already done it.

v.                         The cross of Jesus has said all of those things, and more.

vi.                      The meek person is a person who has come under the weight of the condemnation of the cross, and agrees with its verdict.  That Jesus died for sins…MY sins. 

vii.                    That takes the swagger out of our step, and makes us humble, and humbled.

viii.                  What is meant?

ix.                      Meek lit. means “humble, modest, unassuming, gentle”

x.                         Jesus is teaching the very opposite of what the world teaches.

xi.                      Rather than trust your own abilities and powers, rather you trust in the Lord.

xii.                    Psalm 37:7, Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”

xiii.                  Mat. 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

xiv.                  Meekness doesn’t not mean weak, or spineless, or pathetic.

1.      It doesn’t mean niceness or someone who’s a pushover, or a wallflower.

2.      It really means power under control.  Like a tame horse.

3.      It means to be “Humble, gentle, not aggressive—but trusting and waiting on the Lord to act”

xv.                     Illustration:

1.      When you get pulled over for driving too fast, and the police officer tells you that you were driving 20 miles over the speed limit, and the ticket should be over $400, but he has decided to let you go, and your jaw drops and you feel like giving him a hug…here is the question:  How do you drive off?

a.       Do you squeal your tires?  Do you spray gravel and lay some rubber?

b.      Or do you drive away slowly?  Because you have just been shown the law, and you have violated the law, but you have been shown mercy and comforted.  How do you drive off?  You drive off in meekness…

e.       If we are going to apply the golden rule we need to be peacemakers!

i.  The New Testament calls for all believers to live in peace with one another and with all people:

1.      Be at peace with one another. (Mark 9:50)

2.      If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom. 12:18)

3.      Live in peace [with one another]. (2 Cor. 13:11)

4.      Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thess. 5:13)

5.      Furthermore, they learned that all believers—not just those in positions of leadership—are called to intentionally and actively pursue peace:

6.      Let us pursue what makes for peace. (Rom. 14:19)

7.      Strive for peace with everyone. (Heb. 12:14)

8.      Let him seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:11)

9.      So flee youthful passions and pursue . . . peace. (2 Tim. 2:22)

10.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. (Col. 3:15)

ii.                        The opposite of peacemaking is criticism and fault-finding.

1.      Someone who is divisive:

a.       Careless with words.

b.      Complainers.

c.       Grumblers.

d.      Gossips.

e.       A trouble-maker.

f.        Critics.  Fault-finders. 

iii.                      The peacemaker is not concerned with the self-life, but the critic judge is!

1.      The best way to understand this is in terms of understanding the self-life.

2.      The opposite of the peacemaker is the person who is self-focused.

3.      They are concerned with their own rights, their own lives, their own needs, their own feelings.

4.      For instance:

a.       In a family, you might have tensions.  You might have disagreement.  You might have conflict.

b.      The reason for conflict is because someone feels he or she is not getting fair treatment.  Or their rights are being overlooked.

c.       They are concerned about defending their rights, their voice, their opinion.

d.      They are zealots for themselves.

e.       The reason for family disputes, invariably, is because people feel like they are getting the short end of the stick.  Something has happened to THEM, they they don’t like.

i.  Something was withheld from THEM.

ii.                        Something was said to THEM.

f.        When that attitude of the self-life prevails, the result is conflict and animosity and hurt feelings.

g.      A peacemaker looks at what is best for the family.

5.      The peacemaker is someone who sees himself as a worm.  He is poor in spirit, he has mourned over his sin and laments it, he is happy to be a servant, and now he is freed up to focus on others!

6.      The pathway to becoming a peacemaker starts with being poor in spirit, lamenting yourself and your sin, seeing yourself as a servant, humble and meek.

7.      This is the foundation for becoming a peacemaker, like God.

iv.                      The peacemaker absorbs the conflict and suffers long (on behalf of others).

1.      I am NOT saying there aren’t times when conflict needs to happen.  Conflict can be good.

2.      I am talking about the unnecessary conflict.

3.      Peacemakers consider the needs of the group, not their own preferences.

4.      Peacemakers absorb

v.                         Stop the criticism and judging!

1.      In September 2011, The New York Times ran an article about a small town in Missouri called Mountain Grove. Gossip and rumors have always existed in this tight-knit community, but before the days of anonymous social media sites, people traded stories at the local diner called Dee's Place. At Dee's Place you could usually find a dozen longtime residents who gathered each morning to talk about weather, politics, and, of course, their neighbors.

2.      But of late [the article reports], more people in this hardscrabble town of 5,000 have shifted from sharing the latest news and rumors over eggs and coffee to … a social media Web site called Topix, where they write and read startlingly negative posts, all cloaked in anonymity, about one another. [Unlike sites like Facebook, which require users to give their real names, Topix users can pick different names and thus remain anonymous.]

3.      And in Dee's Place, people are not happy. A waitress, Pheobe Best, said that the site had provoked fights and caused divorces. The diner's owner, Jim Deverell, called Topix a "cesspool of character assassination." And hearing the conversation, Shane James, the cook, wandered out of the kitchen tense with anger.

4.      His wife, Jennifer, had been the target in a post … which described the mother of two, as among other things, "a methed-out, doped-out [addict] with AIDS" Not a word was true, Mr. and Mrs. James said, but the consequences were real enough …. Now, the couple has resolved to move. "I'll never come back to this town again," Ms. James said in an interview at the diner. "I just want to get … out of town."

f.        Summarize:

i.  The Two Extremes:

1.      One extreme is that we are gullible, spineless, and naive.

2.      The other extreme is that we are self-righteous critics who look down our noses at others.

3.      Neither extreme brings about the Goldren Rule.

IV.                    The Golden Rule Gone Right (7:7-12).

a.       Jesus moves from talking about being a critic to talking about prayer:

i.  I think He does this for two reasons:

1.      We need God’s help to follow the Golden Rule.

a.       We need God’s help to not idoloze money.

b.      We need God’s help to not worry.

c.       We need God’s help to not be a self-rigteous judge.

d.      We need God’s help to get over our self-prone superiority complex.

e.       We need prayer to do this.

2.      Jesus is describing how God models the Golden Rule to us.

a.       He is good to us.

b.      He doesn’t give us a rock when we ask for bread.  He doesn’t trick us or despise us.

c.       So this section on prayer needs to be interpreted in light of the Golden Rule in verse 12.

d.      All that being said, this is one of the most enocuraging sections in all of the Bible regarding prayer and God’s tender loving kindness towards His children.

b.      God never tires of us (7:7-8), “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

i.  This isn’t a blank check.

1.      God isn’t a Magic Genie who is dicated by our prayers.

2.      That would make us God, and God our servant.

ii.                        When Jesus says, “ask, seek, knock” he is saying we should never grow tired of asking because God never gets tired of hearing and answering.

1.      In other words, “Don’t be shy! Ask away!  God is a Good Father.  He loves to give good gifts more than you do to your kids!”

2.      Jesus is not suggesting vain repetition.  He has already rebuked that in chapter 6.

3.      We shouldn’t drone on and on with many words as if that helps.

4.      His point is that God never tires of us.

iii.                      God is good, and you can ask Him!

1.      James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

2.      1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

3.      “If you don’t spend much time in prayer it is almost proof positive you don’t know Him…If you knew Him you’d ask!”  John Piper

a.       Imagine being a leper…and not asking the Doctor for antibiotics.

b.      The Samaritan woman at the well:  Jesus said, “If you knew who I was you would have asked me…”

iv.                      God is good, and He models to Golden Rule to us when we pray.

1.      God has practiced the Golden Rule to us.

c.       God is like a Good Father (7:9-11), “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

i.  Something we must continually battle until the Lord returns are misunderstandings of God.

ii.                        Eph. 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

iii.                      “You then who are evil”

1.      Jesus is not speaking of specific fathers who would do this, but of all fathers.

2.      Jesus is making a catagory diliniation between the heavenly Father (who is holy) and earthy fathers (who are evil)

3.      But even sinful human fathers like myself, would never dream of tricking our kids with a live snake for their food.

4.      We would do anything for our kids.

5.      And yet, even this STRONG love isn’t to be compared with God’s love for His children.

6.      God will infinitly outdo us in love and benevolence.

iv.                      Jesus Christ has been the supreme example of the Golden Rule.

1.      Jesus suffered and died in our place.

2.      Jesus loved us by denying Himself.

3.      Jesus put our needs before His needs.

v.                         The point: If God loves us like this, then we should love others the way that we would like to be loved.

d.      The Golden Rule (7:12).

i.  The logical flow of the Scriptures here go like this:

1.      Don’t be a self-righteous judge with a superiority complex.

2.      Rather be like God, who has loved you like a Generous Kind Father.

3.      In light of that, you now have the emotional strength to happily apply the Golden Rule.

ii.                        The Golden Rule is positive, not negative.

1.      This type of ethic was not invented by Jesus.  Other teachers and Rabbi’s said similar things.  But they always stated it negatively.

2.      Confusius, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

3.      The stoics, “What you do not want to be done to you, do not do to anyone else.”

4.      Jesus comes along and totally turns it around.

iii.                      The Golden Rule is a summary of the Sermon on the Mount:

1.      The Golden Rule here not only summarizes our section, it summarizes the entire Sermon on the Mount up to this point.

2.      “This truth settles a hundred different points...it prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases.” J.C. Ryle

iv.                      The Golden Rule summarizes the Law and the Prophets:

1.      Mat. 22:39, “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

2.      Lev. 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

3.      Rom. 13:8, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

4.      Gal. 5:14, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

5.      Mat. 22:37-39, “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

6.      Mark 12:28-31, “And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

v.                         Love is the New Commandment that Jesus gave:

1.      John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

2.      Rom. 5:5, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

3.      1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”

e.       Illustration:

i.  Coach John Gagliardi, of Saint John University, is the winningest coach in college football history with an astounding 421-117-11 record. To say that he's done it in an unconventional way is an understatement. His "winning with no's" approach is noteworthy: No blocking sleds or dummies; no scholarships; no spring practices; no compulsory weightlifting program; no whistles; no "Coach" (players call him John); no tackling in practice (players wear shorts or sweats); no long practices(typically an hour and a half or less).

ii.                        Donald Miller comments on the genius of his approach, "Players are asked to treat their teammates in the way they would like to be treated, with kindness, graciousness, and altruism. The players work as hard as they want to work, and when they come to practice they do exactly as the coach asks them to do, not because their positions are threatened, but because they care about one another, work as a team, and love their coach because they sense his love for them."  http://www.gojohnnies.com/football/jg.htm, and Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What, (Thomas Nelson, 2004), p. 139; submitted by Scott McDowell, Nashville, Tennessee

f.        What is love?

i.  Selfish criticism isn’t love.

ii.                        Gossip isn’t love.

iii.                      Venting about people isn’t love.

iv.                      Placing yourself in the place of God and evaluating others motives isnn’t love.

v.                         Thanklessness isn’t love.

V.                       Bottom Line Summary:

a.       Who are we? 

i.  It is utter nonesense to act like self-rightouess critics in light of all God has done for us.

b.      God is a good father, who loves His children, and constantly is doing what’s best for them.

c.       Let’s imitate Him and fulfill the Law and the prophets and do to others what we would want done to us.

VI.                    The Gospel:

a.       Maybe you are here today and don’t really feel the need for Christ? 

b.      Maybe you are here today and don’t feel much urgency to be reconciled to God?

c.       Maybe you are here and don’t really sense your sinfulness?

d.      Let me tell you then, that you have a giant log in your eye!

e.       You cannot see it, because you are not poor in spirit!

f.        You cannot sense it because you are not broken over your sin and mourned!

g.      You cannot feel it because you are not meek.

h.      If that is you, confess your self-righteousness which has blinded you for your need of Christ.

i.        Make yourself low, and come to a Good Father, who gives the gift of life and forgivenss of sins to those who ask.

Related Topics: Fellowship, Spiritual Life