In Ephesians 1, Paul prays for believers in this manner:
“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:16-19 (NIV)
Paul’s single goal was Christ—to know Him, to glorify Him, and to teach others to do the same. John exhorted us to love God more than the world or its pleasures.
Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NLT)
Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Romans 13:13-14 (NIV)
Renewing your mind with Scripture will enable you to put off the sinful desires of the flesh. These not only include immoral desires but also selfish desires . . . the selfish desires that keep you focusing only on yourself and how you feel today.
Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV)
Loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind is impossible apart from the working of the Holy Spirit. God, who is far above all rule and power, must always take first place. He reigns in glory, independent of you and me. We do not “make” God number one, and we do not “make” Jesus Christ “Lord.” God is already God and Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). What must change is our understanding of who we are! As we learn our humble position before an Almighty God, our perspective changes on how we are to live life. As we begin to comprehend that we are here to serve Him (not the other way around), Matthew 22:39 becomes reality to us: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
We have no problem loving ourselves. In fact, we are very good at it. Some think they could not possibly love themselves because they are depressed, neglecting their personal hygiene, staying in bed, or doing harm to themselves (e.g., getting drunk, cutting self), but what do those actions indicate? Who are we worrying about and dwelling on most when we’re depressed: ourselves! Even fuming inside about someone who isn’t treating us right is a sign that we love ourselves more than we love our neighbor. This is why Jesus did not tell us to love ourselves more; he told us to love others as much as we already love ourselves!
Putting Matthew 22:39 into action means serving others. God has graciously given us direction in His Word to know how to serve our fellow man. Read the Word, soak it in, revel in the Word! It is your pipeline to the thoughts of God.
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