Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 18 May, 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 14, (Chap. 14, Part 2)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 111-118)
Loving Self And Others! – The second part of the great Commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart…soul…and mind,” is to love our neighbors and selves with equal importance. Jesus insisted on this ethical command (cf. Matthew 25:37-40, NLT)! Because God has created us as the crown of His creation, we need to give great importance to the love we have for ourselves and for others. Although we should not put ourselves, nor others, before God, we must acknowledge this ethical command as having great importance to God. He has created us to reflect His glory (cf. Genesis 1:26-27, NLT). Our character should reflect some of the communicable qualities which are inherent in God’s character. The scriptures describe love in its demonstrative form, as helping and serving others. To serve another, is not to neglect one’s self; but it is having a willingness to make sacrifices to become a blessing to others, strengthen your faith, and to glorify God. In the early years of the Christian Church’s formation, the ethical command to love others and self was strongly emphasized (cf. Romans 13:9b-10, NLT). In the great chapter on compassion and benevolence that’s found in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus takes great care in the parable to emphasize that knowing the ethical command to love others and share with them, must become realized by what we do to assist persons in need. Some Bible commentaries and teachers believe that the King in the parable is a reference to Jesus (cf. Matthew 25:37-40, NLT). Based on this text, Christians are challenged not to overlook Christ, who appears among the destitute, deprived, incarcerated, and persons with food and shelter insecurities. We are not to overlook persons with legitimate needs. In his devotional, Begin Again, Max Lucado comments: “Compassion is the consequence of salvation…Jesus will recount, one by one, all the acts of kindness. Every deed done to improve the lot of another person. Even the small ones.” He says further, “The works of mercy are simple deeds. And yet in these simple deeds, we serve Jesus. Astounding this truth: we serve Christ by serving needy people.” It’s possible that some of the congregation John addressed were living comfortably. They didn’t help the less fortunate among them. John said, this was not compatible with their faith, because they showed no love (cf. I John3:17, NLT).They were to “show compassion” (cf. I John 3:15, NLT).
Helping Family And Others- The early Christian community was no more perfect than the Church is today. Paul emphasizes this in writing his son in the faith, Timothy. There were reports that some Christians were neglecting the needs of their family. The Apostle Paul sent a terse directive to the church, demanding that the negligent parties be made aware that their actions made them appear worse than unbelievers (cf. I Timothy 5:8, NLT). This was a strong reprimand to persons for whom the Christian life was to be different! The ethical command in the New Testament to love God, others, and self, mirrors the command first given in the Old Testament (cf. Leviticus 19:18; 33-34, NLT). The Old Testament. idea of “welcome” to strangers, also finds its way into the New Testament. The New Testament ideas of “mercy,” “compassion,” and “hospitality” mirrors the Old Testament idea of showing love for people we do not know. The great parable Jesus shared about the man who was robbed, beaten, and left for dead, is an iconic illustration of how we are to respond to others in need (cf. Luke 10:29-30; 33-37, NLT). As with all of the stories of the rabbis, and the later parables of Jesus, an instructive principle is given at the end. Jesus allowed the man who initially asked the question, “Who is my neighbor?” to answer his own question. From the colorful story told, it was obvious that the Samaritan who assisted and took care of the victim, was the neighbor. He showed compassion, when the Temple leaders expressed diffidence. Jesus then told the man who queried him, to go and live his life as the Samaritan in the parable did. Anyone in need, is one’s neighbor. The Message Bible translates Matthew 25:40 as Jesus saying: “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.” To gauge people’s sense of benevolence, Joshua Bell a renown violinist dressed in shabby clothes and stood against a wall with his violin in a Washington, D.C. metro station. He opened his violin case and put a few dollars in it, and played six great classical pieces for close to an hour. Over 1,000 people passed by him during that time, and he collected a paltry $32.17. Only seven people placed money in his violin case. Little did they know, he was one of the most gifted of the world’s violinists, but they saw him as just another bothersome person. Overlooking people in need can hurt us!
What We Believe
Properly love ourselves. Love and share with others in need!
1. In every simple deed and gesture of help, we see Jesus!
2. We must seek to recognize Christ each day!
Matthew 22:37-40, NLT
“Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul,and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these commandments.”
Romans 13:9b-10, NLT
“These – and other such commandments – are summed up in this one commandment:“Love your neighbor as your-self.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.”
Matthew 25:37-40, NLT
“Then these righteous ones will reply, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Ora stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.”
I John 3:17, NLT
“If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person?”
I Timothy 5:8, NLT
“But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household,have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than an unbeliever.”
Leviticus 19:18; 33-34, NLT
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord…Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
Luke 10:29-30; 33-37, NLT
“The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho,and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes,beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road…Then a despised Samaritan came along,and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,telling him, “Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay the next time I’m here.” “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” “…The one who showed mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”