Priorities – Others over Self

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:31) and to love one another the way He loved us (John 13:34). How did He love us? More than Himself.

Jesus declares that our neighbor is not only those who share our faith, race, or class, but also as everyone who needs our help. This command to love one another as ourself is not merely a philosophical ideal. When the crowd asked John the Baptist what they should do, he gave very practical advice: if we have food or more clothes than we can wear at one time, we should share that with someone who has none. Our command is not only that we avoid cause harm, but also that we treat others as we would like to be treated. This is not merely one of the “cause no harm” standards that are so popular in our selfish culture; this is a “do good” standard, and it applies to everyone we touch.

Love between believers is so important that Jesus declares that it is the identifying characteristic of His disciples. Not our words, even when they are good, and not prophetic utterances or miracles in His name, but our love for the body of Christ. Paul encourages us to not only look out for our own interests, but also for the interests of others. That is a good starting point, but only takes us to the point of loving others as much as ourself. In Jesus, we see an example of loving more. I love how the New Living Translation captures this so well… “He made himself nothing“. By both word and action, Jesus taught that there is no greater love than to lay down our life for our friends. Paul punctuates the point when he instructs the Philippians to consider each other more important than themselves.

Jesus declared that we are his friends if we obey his commandments. If we are obeying His commandments then we are loving our neighbor as much as ourself. If we identify so closely with Jesus that His friends are our friends then we are laying down our life for the body of Christ. How serious are we about loving when it isn’t convenient, and when it is perhaps even painful?

Priorities Index

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