Do you Love Yourself? Or the Glory of God?
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. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
When Jesus commands us to love one another, this command sounds sweet upon our ears. Indeed, one can agree that we should love our neighbors, take care of them, and teach them of God the Father’s great mercy and love. But Jesus’ mercy and love do not mean we do it for our glory. In short, loving one another is not a command to keep for your salvation.
When encountering those who have little to no faith in Christ are offended that their works in the world do not get them into heaven. The idea that Christ’s death was not only enough for their sins, but the only redeeming factor is the shed blood of Christ.
The argument goes something like this.
“If the death of Christ on the cross is the only way that I am saved, then my good work and good deeds are not enough for salvation. What a despicable God if he does not think my good works are enough!”
I tell you that you have little faith in God’s redeeming work. I also tell you that helping your neighbors redeem a spot in heaven is working for your glory. To say, “I have given a dagger and cloak to those that need it. I have given bread to those that have asked. I have given money to those that need it. I have earned my keep.” This is not Glory to God, but to the self.
Then those who encounter the idea that they are raising themselves, one tries to lower the bar. One tries to excuse that not only does the neighbor benefit from their good deeds, but the neighbor also benefits. I tell you that the neighbor does not receive help at all from your good deed. Instead, you trample on them to become first in line. You use the neighbor as a tool to redeem yourself and climb a ladder. You lower them instead of raising them up. You do not love the neighbor as Christ has loved you.
Instead of raising ourselves as better than neighbor and God, we should instead kneel at the cross and thank God for shedding His blood. Christ did not love the neighbor to raise Himself but to raise the neighbor. Do you see the difference? Can you love your neighbor as Jesus loved them?
If you love the neighbor for your benefit, you are not loving the neighbor. Instead, you are loving the good that you have done. You love yourself.
This Christmas, remember that loving the neighbor is not loving the neighbor in response to what God has done for you. It is not using the neighbor to gain salvation or heaven. Nor is it about tooting your own horn. Instead, know that your neighbor needs love and help because they are helpless, just like you and I. Christ has come and died for you. You help your neighbors simply because they need it.