Outlive Your Life

“When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’ – 1 Kings 2:1-4.

The life you live is the legacy you leave. There are many people who’s legacy will impact our lives, and more often than not, these great influences have no idea of the depth their impact has had upon us. We too have an opportunity to deeply impact others, to live a life that lasts. The question is whether we are pursuing or are we fleeing from our legacy. Each day is an opportunity to develop our story, to define our legacy, and to live our passion. We start asking questions like “what do I want my children to remember about me?” Or “when I am gone, what do I want people to say about my life as a Christian?” 

An interesting passage on this subject is found in 1 Kings 2:1-4.  In this passage, King David is about to die.  He is handing the kingdom over to his son Solomon. David is about to tell Solomon how to live a life that is worth living. This is an interesting passage for many reasons.  For one, this is not the typical story we talk about when it comes to David. We talk about his days as a shepherd boy and we talk about his battle with Goliath. We talk about his friendship with Jonathan, his conflict with his son Absalom and his sin with Bathsheba. But, we rarely talk about the end of his life. That is unfortunate, because I think there is a lot that we can take away from this passage on the subject of legacy. 

Most think people who leave a legacy are those above approach, those who have been able to rise above the problems that plague the rest of us. David, however, did not model perfection in his life. David sinned, but when he did, he always returned to God. We see in 1 Kings 2:2 that David tells his son to be strong, and by strong he meant a total reliance and dependence on God. In other words, we are made strong through our weakness.   

David also tells Solomon to observe what the Lord requires by keeping His law. Memorizing Scripture is an admirable task, but it is more than checking off a spiritual checklist. Once we memorize the scripture, it is time to apply it to our lives so that we might grow as a model of consistency. David closes his final talk with his son by reminding him that if he does all of these things, he will prosper and all of his descendants after him will have a legacy of consistent faithfulness to the Lord.

That’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?  Leaving those that come behind me a model of consistent, if not perfect, service to our Lord.  I would want people to say that I loved Jesus more than anything else on earth, and because I did, I was able to love my wife, children, family, friends, even strangers more completely. Life is such a series of short interactions with people, and for some, I’m the only glimpse of Jesus that they will ever see.  That tells me that I need to make my short moments count with all people. That’s how you build a legacy that lasts.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is there someone who has inspired you through their legacy?
  2. What would you list as the characteristics of a lasting legacy?
  3. Read 2 Timothy 4:1-8: Spend a few minutes thinking about the legacy you would like to leave. How does that compare to Paul’s desired legacy expressed in this passage of scripture?
  4. What type of legacy will the current choices and priorities of your life lead to?
  5. What are some changes that need to take place today to move you back toward a legacy of faithful service to God?

Preparing For Easter

“Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” – John 11:25-26 (NLT)

Easter is about a month away. We all know the statistics concerning Easter and Christmas. People are more open to coming to church on Christmas and Easter than at any other time of the year. Because of that, we look at these holidays as great opportunities for outreach. Opportunities to share the gospel while giving people an opportunity to experience first hand our church environments.  While it is important to “put our best foot forward,” I don’t believe this is enough to bring people back after Easter. What people want is to discover the risen Savior.

At this point in my life I am more impressed with Jesus Christ and the grace of God than ever before. As Easter approaches, I can’t help but think of Jesus, specifically his suffering in the place of all sinners. I think of Jesus’ laser focus on marching to the cross to bear the sins of the world. I think of Jesus, the one who is due all glory and honor, bearing all of my shame and dishonor, so that I might be forgiven. I think of the Son of God tasting death (“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” – Hebrews 2.9) so that I would never have to. (“…‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.” – John 8.52).

I think of Jesus being raised from the dead to declare victory over sin and death. When I think of my Savior, I picture myself myself joining in the heavenly anthem with the Apostle John: “… and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” (Revelation 1.6-7)

So here’s my challenge, but I issue it only to those of us who are followers of Jesus, whose lives have been changed, and who believe that Jesus can change other’s lives just as he did ours. There is someone around you who is sincerely wondering “Who Jesus really is?” They honestly don’t know, or what they think they know are myths and perceptions. But they have an open mind and are willing to listen. Remember that the majority of people who don’t attend church, give the same reason when they’re asked why: “No one ever asked.”

Your mission, if you would prepare for Easter in a way that will bring glory to God and transform lives, is to find that one person that you can invite. I can’t tell you who they are; but God knows, and you probably do, too: your neighbor, your colleague, maybe a brother or sister, a mother or father, maybe a close friend. Someone who hasn’t yet experienced the forgiveness, the deliverance, and the peace, that comes when you experience new life through faith in Jesus Christ. Invite him or her to one of our Northstar Church campuses.

Take some time over the next few weeks to feel what Jesus feels, by letting your heart be broken for those who are hurting, those who are wandering, those who are searching for answers to this life. I can tell you what will happen if you let yourself feel what Jesus feels: it will bring a flood of compassion for those far from the heart of God.

  Counting Down To Easter

  1. Pray for the Easter services.
  2. Make a list of people you want to invite to church on Easter? Do you have a relationship with that individual(s)? Have you prayed for that individual(s)?
  3. Have you shared your story on how God has changed your life?
  4. Have you considered your role after they attend Northstar? Will you continue to pray for them?
  5. Pray and ask God for the wisdom to invest in the lives of others in a way that draws them to Him

Is It Finished?

“So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:10-14.

Milan’s Duomo is decidedly the most impressive structure in Milan. This cathedral is the fifth largest Christian church in the world. There are 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures that decorate Milan Duomo. Thousands of artists, sculptors and specialized workers were involved in the construction of the Cathedral of Milan. It was consecrated in 1418, but took nearly six centuries to build. Most of the people who built this “wonder” never got to see the end, the completion of the cathedral. If they had, they would have a lasting monument to finishing well. 

We talked this week about living our lives with the end in mind. Regardless of where we are in the journey, we need to have the end in mind and to finish well. “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) And 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Let’s look at Moses. Deuteronomy 34:10 tells us “There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”

Moses ended well, although if you researched the life of Moses, you wouldn’t think it would end particularly well. He spent the first 40 years of his life building up a sense of confidence that eventually led him to take things into his own hands by killing an Egyptian. The next 40 years of his life was lived in relative obscurity caring for and tending sheep. And, when the time came, God calls Moses to use him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.

The last 40 years of Moses were very fruitful. He never slowed down. Deuteronomy 34:7 tells us, “Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever.” He was still energized to serve his God. He finished well.

I want to live my last years sold out to God. I don’t know how many years I have left, nor do I know what my circumstances will be. So I will keep eternity in mind and live for God today in preparation for that end, or the beginning of an eternity with my Savior.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Up to this point, what has been your finish line? 
  2. Do you believe that starting well affects how you finish? Why or why not?
  3. Hebrews 12:2 says, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” Where are we to keep our eyes focused? Why is this so important?
  4. What can you do today to set you on a course that will help you finish the race set before you?

Don’t Look Back

The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.  And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.“ – Genesis 19: 23-26.

The story of Lot’s wife is a familiar one to those who grew up in the church. If you have not heard the story, you can find it in Genesis Chapter 19.  The Reader’s Digest version is God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but angels warn Lot. Genesis 19:15 says, “As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” And then in verse 17: ”And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” But we know that Lot’s wife did look back and was turned into a pillar of salt.

The Bible doesn’t answer or indicate why Lot’s wife looked back. We can only speculate. Maybe she looked back because she longed for what she left behind. Or maybe she was looking back because she didn’t know what she was looking forward to?

It is easy to let the uncertainty distract us from moving forward. Having said that, it is hard to understand why she didn’t. Whatever God had planned for her future was a lot better than what God had just rescued her from. God saved her and her family from total destruction. Anything was better than being stuck in that city while fire shot down from the sky.

Again, we don’t know why she looked back. Maybe it was her possessions that held her heart and kept her from fully embracing the deliverance she was offered. Maybe her life was defined by materialism. And when she lost those possessions, she lost her way. That may not be the case, but it has application in our lives. If we focus on the treasure of this world, we will not be focused on what matters most. 

In full disclosure, I get it. It is easy to become attached to things in our life, whether it be routine, a status or a title, or wealth. The same tragedy that happened to Lot’s wife is the same tragedy that happens to us when we are always longing for material things. The tragedy is all that we are missing out on in this life because we are too busy hanging onto something that makes us feel good, or that makes us feel important, but does not matter in the context of eternity.

Randy Alcorn, in Money, Possessions and Eternity says, “God comes right out and tells us why he gives us more money than we need. It’s not so we can find more ways to spend it. It’s not so we can indulge ourselves and spoil our children. It’s not so we can insulate ourselves from needing God’s provision. It’s so we can give and give generously.”  (2 Corinthians 8:14; 9:11)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Would you say you look back or look forward more often?
  2. What in your life would prompt you to look back rather than ahead? 
  3. Read 2 Corinthians 8:14 and 2 Corinthians 9:11: what are these verses telling you?
  4. Pray and ask God to help you focus on eternity.

Do What Matters Because What You Do Matters

“Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession. So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him. But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.” Hebrews 10:32-39

When you have a moment, read Psalm 50. In this psalm, God recognizes that the Israelites are properly offering the sacrifices God himself had required in the law. Yet He says that He doesn’t need these sacrifices. What God wants most of all from His people is not proper religious activity, but faithfulness and obedience: “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me, to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23).

This Psalm touches on the subject of just doing things and doing things that really matter.

Thankfully, the Bible gives us many clear statements on what priorities to set for our life. There are hundreds of such statements in the Bible, but they all boil down to one thing: make eternal things your priority. The television shows we watch won’t last. The education we acquire will not endure. All our trophies will rust and fade away. The Mustang we bought will eventually be used as scrap. Our 401 (k) or our 4k TV won’t last. Even the successful company that we built with our hands will fade over time.   

The only things that matter are those that have eternal significance. Getting your name in the history books doesn’t matter if your name is not in the Book of Life. The rewards of wealth on earth won’t matter if you lose all rewards in Heaven.   

Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Jesus also said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). What does He say your priority should be? To seek first the kingdom of God. To live with eternity in mind. The Apostle Paul says that same thing in his letters. For example, in Colossians 3:2, he writes, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

So we should be focused on what matters. And what matters is what will last for eternity. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. This life is not our destination; it is a preparation for eternity. Agree or disagree?
  2. Give examples of how our culture encourages a focus on the here and now.
  3. Read Romans 8:18-25: What are some of the elements that define the here and now according to this passage?  
  4. How much does your belief in eternity shape the way you live and respond to life?  What areas of your life do you tend to treat as if this is all there is?

It’s Your Funeral

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:50-57.

Imagine if you could attend your own funeral. I don’t want you to freak out. Just bear with me and imagine that you are about to attend your own funeral. The funeral is held in a location large enough to seat all your friends, your family, your business associates, your neighbors, your college roommate, in fact, anyone and everyone to whom you are important and who is important to you. 

The setting is solemn. The lighting is subdued. People are respectfully dressed. People are talking quietly in small cliques all over the room. Every foot of available space is filled with flowers and floral arrangements sent from friends and loved ones in love and sympathy. At the front of the room is a table, that includes several pictures of you with scented candles casting a glow on each photo. A memorial guest book is signed by all the people who came to pay their respects.   

At the front of the room is a beautiful solid hardwood casket. The wood veneer is stunning. You are lying in the casket. But you are also in the audience as the service starts. Everywhere you look there are sad people wiping away their tears. 

Key people in your life, close friends and family are given 3 minutes to speak whatever is on their heart. You pull out a pad of paper and are ready to take notes. You are wondering what they are going say. You have questions such as: What did they most appreciate about me? Or what did my life mean to them? What impact did it have? What are they missing or what have they lost when you passed?

Would you be satisfied with your answers? Would the answers suggest regret? Would the answers indicate that you didn’t live your life with the end in mind? Would you wish you had more time to heal old wounds? Did you contribute to the Kingdom? Did you love others as yourself? Were you giving? 

We all will have some regrets or some things we wanted to do differently when we die.  But the good news is that we can still change the outcome. You can take the steps necessary to begin shaping your eulogy—and the outcome of your life—now. It may mean healing old wounds with a relative. We may be to love more or be more generous. Whatever is required, it is worth the effort to contribute to the Kingdom of God by leading your life with the end in mind.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is it practical to focus on eternity rather than the here and now?
  2. How much does your life impact others?
  3. Our choices will determine where we end up. How have you seen good or bad choices influence where you are today? Why do you think you made those choices?
  4. Pray and ask God to help you live your life with the end in mind.   

Happy Days

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” – Psalm 37: 4-6. 

In a survey, 90 percent of respondents said they have regret in their lives. In the same survey regret is the second most frequently mentioned emotion after love. One survey response on living a regret free life is simply allowing yourself to be happier.  Blaise Pascal said, “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end…”  I think if we are honest, we would accept the truth of this statement, especially in the context that God wants us to be happy.   

As Christians, we tend to think about and talk about the sacrifices we must make to be a follower of Jesus. Most Christians understand that it is not easy to be a follower of Jesus. There are things to do and things to avoid. There are do’s and there are don’ts. There are laws and commandments. It’s no wonder many Christians wonder if God really wants wants us to be happy or to simply keep our nose to the grindstone. Having the grindstone mentality may explain why Christians aren’t always the happiest looking people you come in contact with. 

But, the truth is, God wants us to be happy. In fact, our pursuit of happiness is commanded. “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Delighting or finding your happiness in God is your chief aim in life. Because when you find your happiness in God,  you are declaring God as more valuable than anything else. John Piper puts it this way, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” God knows that you will be happiest when you find your happiness in Him.

So, what does this have to do with regret? The impact that regret can have on our lives is sometimes difficult to foresee. But regret is an incredibly powerful and enduring feeling that is directly related to our happiness in the end. When we find our happiness in God, we will remember what matters most, what counts and doesn’t count. We won’t be distracted by the petty, the trivial, the things that are not important in life. How much money we make. How popular we are. Not getting into a school, or closing that deal, or giving into that temptation or breaking that rule. 

When you are centered on Jesus we will do less things that cause regret. When we are happy in God, we won’t feel the overwhelming need for other people or things to satisfy our deepest desires. And that is why 1 Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. There are many different ideas of what constitutes happiness. What does it mean to you to be truly happy? 
  2. Besides your faith in Christ, what are some of the things in your life that give you happiness? 
  3. How do happiness and regret go together?
  4.  Ask God to help you seek happiness through Him only.

What Is Love

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – I Corinthians 13:4-7:

Valentine’s Day is over and many wallets are probably a little thinner as we invested various amounts of money in an effort to demonstrate to someone special that “I love you.” But what is love? Not gooey, pulse-pounding sentimentality, but real love as defined by God. We hear a lot about love, but actually see very little of it. We look for it, dream about it, talk about it, and sing about it. But what is it? We think we understand the topic and more importantly we think we recognize it in our lives. But defining it is a different story. The best definition of love I’ve come across is found in I Corinthians 13:4-7, (see above)

This is especially true for Christians. Remember, we serve and worship a God who says that He is love. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4.8). God is the source and truest expression of love. Everything He does is loving. Further, God has told us that we can actually know what love is by looking at the cross. What then is love?

Let me take a stab at a definition. Love is the willful and joyful sacrifice of ourselves in the service of others. This definition takes into consideration that the love that was displayed in the giving of Christ was willful. That is, it was not under compulsion. “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame…” (Hebrews 12:2) It was also a matter of service. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) 

C.S. Lewis in Four Loves writes: “God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing – or should we say “seeing.” There are no tenses in God – the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a “host” who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and “take advantage of” Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.”

Love is not just a feeling, or a theory, or a nice word. It’s the way you treat people, what you do for others. Love will always cost you something: time, energy, effort, money, giving up your pride, doing what’s right when you don’t feel like it, keeping a good attitude when you don’t get your way. Loving the way God loves means you love when there’s nothing in it for you; it’s all about giving out and not expecting anything in return. We’re called to outreach, not in-reach. Real love is about dying to self and living to love others.

That is what love is.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define genuine love?
  2. How much of your life is characterized by love? What is keeping the percentage from being larger? 
  3. What does your level of involvement in the church say about your love for God’s family?
  4. What steps can we take this week to better reflect the love of God? 

Playing It Safe

“And also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.“  – Ephesians 6:19

If you had one month to live, do you think you would have any regrets when the 30 days were over? Probably not. But most of us live a whole lot longer than that so regrets are part of life. So often we wish we could do parts of life over. We wish those last words said in anger could be undone. We wish we had a second chance at that bad financial decision or relationship. It is normal to be held captive by regret for some of our actions and experiences. 

As we grow older and more fully appreciate the mistakes we have made and the opportunities we have missed, the more there is usually to regret. Some of us hold onto deep and consuming regrets that burden our lives, cripple our relationships and hobble our future. What happens is that we often become risk averse.  By not taking chances, by not putting ourselves out there, we believe we will face less regret later on. But is that true?

Will we deal with less regret down the road if we keep our relationship with God sanitary and safe? Will we experience less mistakes, less failures, if we don’t get involved or if we don’t push ourselves out of our comfort zone?  Is it better if we stick to the knitting and mind our own business as a means of lowering the odds on regret?

To some that is the definition of a mature Christian. Mature Christians are the ones that “have it all together.”  They dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Unfortunately, it is difficult to sit on the fence. We live in a troubled, often messed up world. As a Christian you can expect to get judged or criticized or even laughed at. Along the way we will shed some tears, make some mistakes, some minor some not so minor. But we always have God’s love. 

We need to remember that God is not surprised by our mistakes. That does not mean we are freed from responsibility for our mistakes and sins. But God will turn your mistakes into part of His plan, into spiritual growth opportunities that can indeed turn out for good. (Romans 8.28)

What matters to God is a relationship…not performance. God knows we aren’t perfect, and He’s totally okay with it.  Love is learned, and once learned, it is applied by an act of the will by the Christian who chooses to love others.  Love is not easy, and at times it can be risky because we may be hurt. This is because the objects of our love can be offensive, and at times may harm us.  Mature love overcomes the emotions to love others according to their needs. It is a matter of doing things for people out of compassion for their need, whether or not we feel personal affection for them or whether we are stepping out on a limb. 

We need to stop living in fear of making mistakes, because we will make mistakes—period. And yes, those mistakes can turn to regret. God is not asking us to not make any mistakes. He’s calling us to be bold—fearless in approaching Him, in stepping out in faith, and in trusting Him to lead us.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Are you a little gun shy about the future? If so, what is the first step you can take to change that? 
  2. Are there areas of your life where the fear of mistakes or failure is the strongest? How would your life be different if you confronted those fears? 
  3. How well do you handle failures and regret?  What lessons have you learned from your past mistakes? 
  4. What does God ultimately hold me responsible to do? 
  5. Pray to God for wisdom to know when to step out and when not to. 

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

“Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good.” —  Proverbs 19:8 .

When we talk about loving your neighbor as yourself, I’m not referring to self-worship, the need to constantly look in the mirror or dust off our trophies and or take selfies all day long because we believe we are the real deal. I’m talking about being thankful and appreciative of the person God made in us. The two are radically different. 

If we were hooked up to a lie detector, we would probably admit that we are pretty fond of ourselves. We love to think about us, look out for us, and work for us. We don’t mind success and we don’t have any issue with people who recognize our worth. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have regrets, due to mistakes or failures. Even so, we have to think of ourselves, so thinking of others sometimes takes a back seat. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 22:39, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

If you study the people throughout history that have made contributions to the Kingdom, it is not because they loved themselves. They usually changed the world because they didn’t think of themselves at all. They moved self far down the priority list and consumed themselves with God and furthering His kingdom.   

Jesus also said in John 13:24, “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.”  Jesus would not have gone to the cross if He was thinking about or loving Himself. And I don’t think He would have gone to the cross if that action was based on how people treated Him during His years on earth. No, Jesus was completely selfless. The cross is the greatest act of love in history. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  Sacrificing for others, serving others, requires more than loving ourselves.   

In fact, the more we love ourselves, the less we tend to love others. It just seems to work that way. Just as you cannot serve God and money, you cannot love others the way you are supposed to love when you put yourself above them.

It is easy to tell where we stand by our actions. Do we love others enough to take action, to meet needs and put their interests first? Because when we truly are focused on giving and serving and loving those around us, we will have everything we need to be fulfilled, happy, and at peace knowing that we are serving God and loving Him instead of loving ourselves.

It is a receipt for less regret in our lives.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you measure loving yourself? How do you measure loving others?
  2. What happens if you obey the greatest commandment—love God with all your heart, soul, and mind—without obeying the second greatest commandment—love your neighbor as yourself?
  3. The law of love in Galatians 5:14 says, “Love your neighbors as yourself.” How does living of a life of love give glory to God? Are there times when it is difficult to do the “loving thing” in relationships? How do you choose to love?
  4. How has your love for God and for others led to real-life actions and deeds?