Perspective: it affects everything

1 John 3:23 “Love one another, just as he has commanded us.”

Are you more concerned about the love of others towards you or your love towards them? There’s a vast difference between these two perspectives. One difference is that one is a direct command of God, the other is a sinful tendency and our natural bent. Think about your attitude today. Why is it as it is? Are you feeling upbeat and satisfied as you think about your current circumstances, or are you feeling something else? As you think about your family, your workplace, your neighbors, and your church, are your sentiments generally positive-or not. And why is that? What mindset is bringing that about?

There are people that are part of my life whose attitude is generally negative, or even when it is positive are quick to slip into the negative at the drop of a hat. They are disappointed by how others have treated them. They are angry or saddened that they’ve been neglected, mistreated, or otherwise treated in a manner that they believe is less than they deserve. It affects their outlook, their actions, their reactions, and their words, especially when the topic of those “others” who’ve so treated them just happens to come up (and it just happens to “come up” quite often, because that’s a focus of their thoughts). So would you say such a person is more concerned about their own obedience to Jesus’ command above from 1 John 3, or is it something else? As we examine our own lives, what is it that we see?

If our greatest desire is that we obey Jesus’ greatest command, i.e., to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves, how might our attitudes, actions, and words be different? What will be our emphasis in life? How would that emphasis set us apart as one of His disciples? Is our focus primarily on treating others the way in which we would want to be treated, or is it on how others are treating us? Is our judgment towards others based on how much better we view ourselves in comparison to them or on how much better Jesus, the One we claim to be following, compares to us?

Jesus has set the example for us who claim to be His true followers. We’ve been commanded to “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). If Jesus’ focus in life had been on how others treated Him rather than on how His Father would have Him treat them, where would it leave us. Where would we be if this One Whom “was despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3) had likewise despised and rejected us? But He didn’t do this. He ate and drank with sinners. He loved His enemies to the supreme extent. He died on the cross for them. And so He has commanded us “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). But are we doing this, or is our life’s focus on how others are acting toward us?

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