Okay, let’s see if you got this.
I’ve got three multiple choice questions here. All you have to do is pick the right answer. Ready? Go!
1. WE SHOULD BE GENEROUS BECAUSE…
a) The Bible says God loves a cheerful giver
b) If you give God one dollar, He will give you 10
c) It will help the person you are being generous to
2. WE SHOULD NOT GOSSIP ABOUT OTHERS BECAUSE…
a) The Bible says it is not good to slander
b) It will make God upset
c) It hurts the person you are gossiping about
3. YOU SHOULD NOT PRESSURE YOUR GIRLFRIEND FOR SEX BECAUSE…
a) The Bible says thou shall not commit adultery
b) If you do something bad to others, something bad will happen to you
c) Because it is not good to give others any cause for regret
Okay, here’s the deal….
On the face of it, it is seems like all of the answers are right. But if you look closely at the A’s and the B’s, the reasons listed there are very self-centered.
This is how a self-centered person thinks: “The reason why I should be generous is because God loves it and (I) want to be right with God. I should not gossip because (I) don’t want God to be upset with (ME).”
It’s all about (I) and (Me).
In truth, there is nothing wrong with trying to please God, but the essence of what Jesus was trying to say when He said “love your neighbor as yourself” is that it is really difficult to really love anyone if you have a ME mentality.
The idea that we can hurt people, coerce them to do things that are against their will and yet somehow please God by lighting candles or performing fancy rituals is totally twisted. You cannot be right with God if you treat people wrong.
Think about it. If someone speaks nicely to you but treats your kids rudely, would you be pleased with that person?
But if they treat your kids with love and affection, you would be happy to do anything for them, right?
It’s the same with God. If you want to please God you must treat all His children well.
That’s why the Bible says those who claim to love God but hate their fellow human beings are lying. God wants us to be mindful of people and treat everyone with respect.
– You should be generous because it helps the person you are being generous to.
– You should not gossip because it hurts people.
– You should not pressure your girlfriend or anyone to do anything they don’t want to do because it is not right to mar anyone’s future and give them cause for regret.
That’s how you love your neighbor as yourself. That’s how you make a better world for everyone. That’s how you please God.