These are a few thoughts that have come to mind as a result of a discussion some of us had on my Facebook page.
I possess no lien on God. He is not indebted to me and by extension, neither is His creation. You are not indebted to me. No one on the planet is owed anything by God. On the contrary, everyone on the planet is owed everything by me. I am indebted to God and I am indebted to you.
We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19 NKJV)
…And what do you have that you did not receive? ….(1 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV)
… it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV)
I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel…. (Romans 1:14-15 NKJV)
Paul felt a debt to his neighbor, whoever that neighbor was and whatever that neighbor looked like. He felt a debt to show them Christ. He felt that debt because he knew that everything he had was given to him by God and he wanted to act like he understood that and appreciated that. Paul did not teach wanting more, but giving more. Paul learned that from Jesus. Paul felt this way because he had some small sliver of an idea of what it meant to be loved by God. He knew he would never in this life grasp completely the fullness of the reality of God’s incomprehensible love for mankind, and especially for him personally, but, he knew God’s love was there. He could feel its fire in his heart. Paul loved God because God first loved Paul (as John would say). Paul understood that the practical, day-to-day manner of showing that love for God was to love his neighbor as himself, as his Lord had taught and modeled.
Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him,” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and great commandment. “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40 NKJV, emphasis mine, John)
My mission is not to try and make my neighbor feel guilty because he is not loving me enough, but to show my love for him, whether he loves me back or not. Remember this?
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12 NKJV)
Jesus didn’t say to treat others right if they treated you right. He didn’t say to treat others right to get them to treat you right. He just said to be good to people: to treat others like you would want to be treated, to love them as yourself. You know, that’s not real hard to understand. But, it takes an outward focus. If I am thinking about “me” all the time, I’ll never be able to focus on you. The more I think about receiving, the less I can think about giving. Jesus wants givers. He wants us to be like Him, the One who GAVE.
…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28 NKJV)
[Jesus] emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:7-8 RSV)
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV)
The desire to be served gets in the way of the desire to serve. I cannot empty myself if I am constantly trying to fill myself. If I want to give gifts, I will have to forget getting and concentrate on giving. I will have to do what Paul did.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me….(Galatians 2:20 NKJV)
Which is what Jesus taught…
…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 NKJV)
…and what Jesus did.
…I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. (John 10:17-18 NKJV)
Do I have rights? Not me. When I sinned the first time I forfeited all of them, if I ever had any in the first place. Does my neighbor? Sure they do…they have all the rights…not with God…but with me. I owe them, because of what God has done for me and because the way He said to say “thank you” is to go serve them. If my emphasis is on them serving me, I will never get around to serving them. I will never even begin to love my neighbor as myself, which is the very thrust of Christian ethics.
My emphasis on my rights, at the expense of yours, is spiritual suicide for me.