Faithlife
Faithlife

Neighbor

Brad Jordan
Attitude Adjustment  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:54
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This morning we will look at a very familiar parable from scripture in which Christ demonstrates for us God’s desire for our attitude towards our neighbors, our limitations caused by our attitude and what happens when we submit our attitude to the authority of Christ and seek to glorify Him in the way that we define our neighbor(s).

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Attitude Adjustment: Whosever is my Neighbor Luke 10:25-37 The United Way realized that it had never received a donation from the city's most successful lawyer. So, a United Way volunteer paid the lawyer a visit in his lavish office. The volunteer opened the meeting by saying, 'Our research shows that even though your annual income is over two million dollars, you don't give a penny to charity. Wouldn't you like to give something back to your community through the United Way?' The lawyer thinks for a minute and says, 'First, did your research also show you that my mother is dying after a long, painful illness and she has huge medical bills that are far beyond her ability to pay?' Embarrassed, the United Way rep mumbles, 'Uh...no, I didn't know that.' 'Secondly,' says the lawyer, 'did it show that my brother, a disabled veteran, is blind and confined to a wheelchair and is unable to support his wife and six children?' The stricken United Way rep begins to stammer an apology, but is cut off again. 'Thirdly, did your research also show you that my sister's husband died in dreadful car accident, leaving her penniless with a mortgage and three children, one of whom is disabled and another that has learning disabilities requiring an array of private tutors?' The humiliated United Way rep, completely beaten, says, 'I'm so sorry, I had no idea.' And the lawyer says, 'So . . . if I didn't give any money to them, what makes you think I'd give any to you? A few weeks ago, we talked about how we as humans are wired to live in community. We crave interaction with others, especially those who are most like us. We will form communities based on the similarities that mark us and even those who are anti community form anti-community communities, we are hard wired to live in community with each other. These communities become our comfort zone, our bubble of protection that we live and operate in because it helps us to feel safe and secure. As we seek to look at and adjust our attitudes to be more like that of Christ we see that when we live out the gospel that these comfort zones and bubbles become restrictive and crippling. This morning we will look at a very familiar parable from scripture in which Christ demonstrates for us God’s desire for our attitude towards our neighbors, our limitations caused by our attitude and what happens when we submit our attitude to the authority of Christ and seek to glorify Him in the way that we define our neighbor(s). Read Luke 10:25-37 God’s Desire for Our Attitude Towards Our Neighbor(s) We know this story, right, we have studied it, read it, loved it, named missions after it, and rightly so because it is such an awesome picture of how we are to live. As we study this passage this morning, I would ask that the spirit speak to each our lives, convict us of where we may be failing and encourage us to recognize the hope it contains for each of us. As this story begins we seek an expert in the law attempt to test Christ by asking a question that seems innocent enough “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?” Christ not being fooled answers the question with a question, how do you interpret the law. The expert gives a legally correct response and Jesus acknowledges and in the response that the expert gives, which comes directly from the Old Testament we find a truth about what God desires and expects our attitude towards our neighbor to be…Love your neighbor as yourself. So, what does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? To answer this question, we must first answer the question what does it mean to love yourself. Many people struggle with the idea of loving themselves. In today’s culture, love of self has become something that is defined by how many friends you have on social media, how many likes your last selfie got, whether the video you posted or streamed went viral. Loving oneself is much less about loving who we are and more about hoe much others love us but to truly understand God’s desire of us we must know what it means to honestly, truly love ourselves. This is not a conceited love of self but one that is born and founded out of an understanding of how much God Loves us and who we are in His eyes. We must seek to answer a couple of questions. First, who am I? – who are you? How do you define yourself? Are you a child, a mom, a teacher, a dad, a student, a musician, an artist, an engineer, a singer, a dancer, a worker, who are you? Here is the answer, none of the above…. First and foremost, you are a creation of the Most High God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, the same God that knit together the very fabric of creation on the grand scheme of the universe, knit you together in your mother’s womb. Regardless of who you thought you where when you got here this morning, Christian or not a Christian, you were created by God himself. You are not an accident, you are not a coincidence, you didn’t just happen, you were thought about and planned out, placed where you where for a reason. Not only are you created but you are created in His image, all the rest of creation and you as a person where created in the image of God. If you have come to know Christ as your personal savior, you are a child of the king, you are co-heirs with Christ, you belong to the royal family, you are a prince or a princess, your value is not determined by your physical wealth or status, but by the very fact that He holds you in His hand. If you are not a Christian here today you need to know that according to the very word of God, He loved you enough to die for you, to sacrifice everything for you to be reconciled with you so you need to know that God loves you. And you say, but pastor, aren’t I a sinner? Yes, aren’t we all. But I have done terrible things? I have walked a dark road, I have not been all that I should be, and yet, while we were sinners Christ died for us and therefore there is now no condemnation under Christ Jesus. So first you need to answer who am I? second you need to answer what is there to love? Everything…you see the love that we should have for ourselves is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, or provoked, does not keep a record of wrongs, finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in truth, it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things…..We typically read these words about love and marvel at how that applies to others, and it should, but it first has to apply to how we think of ourselves first…if you cannot love yourself, you cannot love others. We can go through the motions, put on a mask, “fake it till we make it” but the problem is this, when we do not have this love for ourselves we cannot have this love for others and so the third question we must ask about this love for ourselves is where do we get it from? I don’t know about most of you, but I am my own worst critic, left to my own I will devolve into self-loathing and despise my own actions. Thankfully, I don’t have to be left to my own. In fact, I have a rock to lean on, a cross to cling to and a crown won by my Lord an Savior to remind me that long before any of us could love, he first loved us. We can have this genuine love for ourselves, a love that I feel is what Paul was referring to when he said he had learned to be content, a contentment and an understanding of who we are and on whom we must lean and that regardless of the storms of life or the difficulties that come our way we rest in him, his love is what enables us to love our self and when we recognize that his love is what enables us to love ourselves and we can see what that looks like then we can truly learn to love others. We forgive their mistakes because we recognize those same short comings within ourselves. We love them through their weakness because we see the same weakness within ourselves. We encourage them through hard and difficult times because we have walked those same paths and dealt with those same difficulties. We love them because we have been loved enough that we were bought by the blood of Christ, Redeemed, regenerated, justified and are being sanctified and because of what he did for us, we will do for them and love them as we love ourselves…. And as Jesus acknowledged that the expert was correct we too know that these actions are correct, but we must also recognize our limitations caused by our attitude. Our Limitations Caused by Our Attitude The expert wasn’t satisfied, he needed to know the details, he wanted to truly understand what was required of him. Surely this mandate didn’t really mean everyone, so we must then define Who is our Neighbor? This expert in the law new the words, he new the language and he could tease any loophole out of the law that he wanted, and he wanted it to be clear, who is my neighbor? We look at this expert and we think, really, dude you got the question right, why are you pushing the envelope, why are you still poking a stick at this? How often do we do the same? How many times are we looking to define exactly what the limitations on what we must do are? The question being asked here is really, how far do I have to go to accomplish the task. He isn’t looking for a definition he is looking for a limitation. How do we do this in our lives? Surely God hasn’t called us to love those gang members, our lives could be in danger. Surely, he doesn’t expect us to love those drug dealers, they put so many peoples live at risk and poison our streets. Fine, if that is what he expects, I can love them from here. Ill write a check, send some money, prayers are always welcome, that’s how God has called me to love these people…. I can love them from a distance. They need to know about Jesus but there are people who get paid to do that. I wonder…what would have happened if God had decided that instead of sending Jesus, He just mailed us a check? In the scripture we find two men, a priest and a Levite, who come upon our victim. The priest, from the line of Aaron, was what we think of when we hear the word priest, he was most likely on his way to do his service in the temple and had he been late he would have lost a once in a lifetime opportunity to serve God in the most spectacular way known to man at that time. As he approached, he may have looked at the man, perhaps even felt sorry for him, but maybe not knowing if he was dead or alive decided that it wasn’t worth the risk. Had the man been dead the priest would have become unclean and unable to serve. God had bigger plan for him and this was a busy road and surely someone would come along and take care of him. This priest would have known and understood his duty to his fellow man. In fact, Judaism, teaches that helping a fellow man is of paramount importance and the law to help others supersedes almost all other laws, yet he couldn’t be bothered by that today, he had an important job that God had given him. Then comes the Levite. Although a member of the same tribe he would have been a descendant of one of the other sons of Levi whose task were to serve as assistant pastors, choir directors, Sunday school superintendents, etc. he would have still known and understood the mandate, but from some reason, perhaps he had just gotten off at the temple and was making his way back home or maybe he was just on a coffee run but as he passed by him didn’t just pass he too moved to the opposite side of the road so that in no way would either he or the priest be associated in any way with the man. There is also a consideration that the Levite may have thought this was a ploy, this road was notorious for robbers and he, fearing for his safety, decided that it wasn’t worth dying for. How often are we too busy, or too sacred to risk it all to show the love that we have been called to show. We become limited by the attitude that we have but when we seek to glorify God in the way that we define our neighbors and submit our attitude to the authority of Christ, lives change Submit our Attitude to the Authority of Christ Someone once said that Attitude is everything and while this is not entirely truthful it is very correct. Our attitude and our approach to others defines who we are and what others believe/know about us. John 13:35 says “This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” Society would have us define our neighbors using spatial relationships with us at the center. In other words, someone’s proximity to you makes them your neighbor. I would argue that scripture defines it not in spatial terms but in terms of our response to others. In our passage we find a man, a Samaritan to be exact, who sees beyond what this man needed. He wasn’t worried about if this man would slow him down in his travels, he wasn’t worried that to help him might make him unclean, he wasn’t concerned that this may be a trap and he may be in danger, his concern was for the man and his need. Jesus tells us that he looked at the man and had compassion for him and because of that compassion he was willing to sacrifice his traveling supplies, at least two days wages, maybe more, and time out of his busy schedule. Not for someone he knew personally, not for a fame or recognition, but simply out of compassion for this man. Dr. David Jeremiah has this to say about compassion. Compassion is action. Without action it is not compassion it is sympathy. The question that each of us must answer is the same question that Jesus posed to the man at the end of this story. Which one proved to be the neighbor? If we were one of the men in the story, would we be the one identified as the neighbor. Would we put aside all our concerns, thoughts, judgements and simply love, have compassion enough to stop, regardless of what we are doing and going and take care of those that are hurt and wounded. This picture of the Samaritan, this picture is also a picture of what Christ did for us. When he found us, we were broken and bleeding, beat up and dead in our sins, he found us, cleaned us up, gave us a new life and a new heart and in turn shouldn’t we help those around us. Around us everywhere are broken and hurting people, physically, emotionally and spiritually who need us to be their neighbor. I want to share with you something that happened Thursday morning right here at Cornerstone. We had been handing out plates for about an hour and 15 mins and we had two left. A man came walking down Davis from behind the church. He came up to the table and I grabbed one of the two remaining plates and handed it to him. He said thank you and god bless several times to all of us who were standing around and then he began to walk back the way he came. He reached about halfway the church stopped, turned around and said three words, I love y’all. Sometimes we look so hard to find our neighbor that we miss them right in front of our face. When Christ came, he didn’t stop to consider if you were worthy of his actions, he you really needed the help, if you were a good person or maybe a drug addict, he didn’t care who you were because who you were was unimportant, he knew you were a sinner and needed grace and mercy and that’s exactly what he left you…how will your attitude shift towards your neighbor?
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