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Love Gives

From the series I Choose Love

Most of us can quote the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In this message, Chip explains what he calls the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as God has already done unto you. It's step one in the process of how we choose love.

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Message Transcript

“One of God’s greatest joys is to see His children love each other.” Isn’t that amazing? The God of heaven, the God that created the stars, the God who made us, the God who sent God the Son to die in our place – one of His greatest, greatest joys is when we love one another.

And I know as a parent, isn’t that true for those of you who are parents? I had twin boys. And Theresa and I have sons who are twins and Eric and Jason and they are five minutes apart. For the first eighteen years of their life, at times, they dressed the same, they had the same classes, the same room, the same everything. Did they fight. I mean, fought. I mean, to the point of physical.

And I’ll never forget the time we came home from a little getaway, a couple days. And, “Well, how did everything go?” “Oh, things were great, things were great.” And they were standing funny against a wall or something and I didn’t even notice it and we had a great time. And years later, you know when families get together and adult kids tell you what really happened? “Oh, Dad, we couldn’t believe you and Mom didn’t even notice that Eric and Jason got in a fight and Eric went to punch him and he ducked and he put his fist through the wall and we patched it and painted it. We were so afraid you would find out.”

And I remember Theresa saying once, because she grew up with two sisters. She said, “Do you think they’ll ever, ever love each other?” And I said, “Honey, this is normal stuff. Yes, we have to set boundaries and discipline,” but I just want you to get that God’s heart, it breaks His heart when we fight. It breaks His heart when we have feelings inside that are resentful and bitter and when you have an unresolved relationship with another believer, another brother, another sister.

Maybe you did business with them. Maybe you were in a small group with them. Maybe it was in another church, I don’t know. But I’m going to ask you, get your heart open. God wants to deal with, because it matters to God. Not just because it brings Him joy, but it’s so important, it’s such a priority to Him, if we could eavesdrop the very last night when Jesus was praying in John 17.

You read that prayer, “Father, Father, make them one even as We are One. You in Me and I in You and Us in them. Father, I pray that as I leave, that You would cause there to be a supernatural unity in order that the world would know.”

That’s a prayer that only you can answer in your home. Only I can answer in my relationships. And not only does God the Father find joy when we love one another, and God the Son prays passionately and commands us to love one another and says the gospel, it’s validity is based on whether the world sees us love each other. The apostle Paul commands it.

And our study in Philippians chapter 2, follow along, I’m reading in the Phillips Translation. He says, “Now, if you experience Christ, if there is any encouragement and love means anything to you, if you have known something of the fellowship of His Spirit, and all that it means in kindness and deep sympathy,” and then here’s the command, “Make My best hope for you,” or, “My joy come true. Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you only had one mind and one spirit before you.”

So just before you open those notes, I want you to think about: is there any relationship that you don’t have harmony, that is out of sorts? And I’m pushing a little bit because we tend to push these down. It could have been two months ago, two years ago, could be twenty years ago, could be an in-law situation or a brother or sister you haven’t seen in twenty years. God wants to get a hold of our hearts and our life. And Philippians chapter 2 is going to teach us how we can choose love and experience it.

Now, as you open your notes, I want you to see the structure of this passage. First of all, there is a very clear context. There is conflict without and there is conflict within. The conflict without, there was persecution, there was difficulty, there was pressure.

These Philippian Christians – just like Paul – they were getting intimidated, they were getting persecuted, they were having struggles and conflicts from the pagan world and even from some Jewish false teachers.

Not a lot different than what we see happening more and more and more today is that people are intimidating Christians. People are becoming more afraid as believers to stand up and stand strong because of external pressure.

But in this particular church, there is conflict within. We will learn more about it in chapter 4 when we meet a couple ladies that apparently had a real conflict that was causing a rift throughout the whole church. And you and I have both seen that happen in a small group or in a family or in a Sunday school class.

And so, then, there’s a very, very interesting command. I gave the words: live in authentic, Christ-empowered unity. Now, the way he says it is, “Make my joy complete.” He said, “You have brought me great joy, you came to Christ. Remember? I was in that Philippian jail and we had fellowship and you all came to know the Lord and there’s this tremendous movement happening in this church.” He said, “So I have received joy. Now, make my joy complete,” because since Paul is now in Rome, some things have happened, like happen in lots of churches and lots of families and lots of small groups.

This person thinks it ought to be this way and this person says, “No,” and, “Well, you said this to my daughter,” “Well, this is how you treated my son,” “Well, every time you come, you think you’re the hottest stuff and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” and there it goes.

And so Paul says, “Make my joy complete.” And he says, “I want there to be authentic, Christ-empowered unity.” In other words, he says, “I don’t want just you to put up with each other. I don’t want it to just be superficial. From the heart. I want you to love one another, resolve the conflicts, forgive one another, care for one another in a way that Christ has cared for you.”

Look at this very, very interesting structure. The structure here, he says, notice it says – there is an “if/then.” In Greek, and I won’t get too detailed here, but there’s called “conditional clauses” and we have them in English as well. But what I love about the Greek language, it’s so clear, there are three or four types of conditional clauses.

So when it says, “If/then; if/then,” you know for sure what they are talking about. This is called a “first class condition,” and the idea is it’s assumed to be true. And, so, notice what he says. He goes, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,” and you could translate all that – “since you have encouragement in Christ, since you have comfort, since you have fellowship, since you have tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by,” notice after these four incentives, “be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in Spirit, intent on one purpose.”

It’s interesting here – he is going to tell us that unlike the golden rule, which is: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” his premise goes a little bit differently.

I call it the “platinum rule.” Do unto others as God has already done unto you.” In other words, the entire premise, what happens in conflicts and struggles and relationships is we think just horizontal and, “They did that,” and, “they don’t deserve that,” and, “when she apologizes,” or, “when he does that,” or, “when one of my kids comes back and really says, ‘Dad, I’m really sorry and I understood this or I understood that,’” or, “what they said at that last Thanksgiving or that family reunion, I’ll never talk to them again unless what they need to do,” he said, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.” He said, “Here’s what I want you to get: the basis of loving people isn’t how they have treated you – good or bad. The basis of our love is a choice. I choose love.”

And here’s the basis of the choice. The basis of the choice is: this is how God has loved you. He has encouraged you. He has come alongside you. He has forgiven you. He has been tender. You now have the fellowship. He has come to take up residence in you. He has sealed you with His Spirit. He has adopted you. He has given you spiritual gifts.

Tenderness and compassion. The word “tenderness” here is splagchnon. It has the idea, it’s rooted in the idea of something deep within the bowels. There’s something tender, deep in the character of God that you are His treasure. And then the compassion is an outward, external evidence of an action that you so matter that He did something. And what He did was He chose to go to the cross. He chose to love you and me when we were His enemies.

“While we were yet enemies, Christ died in our place,” Paul tells us in Romans 5:8. And, so, the basis, the incentives, all four of these incentives – this is how you have been authentically, deeply, unconditionally loved. Now, make my joy complete and be unified authentically, from the heart.

And now he is going to show us exactly what biblical unity looks like. Number one, he says, “Be like-minded,” or, “of one spirit.” Literally, it means: think the same things. And the focus here is on truth. See, genuine unity is built on truth.

It’s thinking, it’s content, it’s doctrine. “These things are true.” So often, and I see it more and more today, it’s unity is sort of like, “Oh, let’s just love everyone. Don’t judge anyone.” It’s pseudo-unity. “Who are we to say anything? Let’s just let this slide.” Real unity demands truth. It demands truth about what the Scripture says about morality, it demands truth about what the Scripture says about sexuality, it demands truth about doctrine when it talks about the very narrow way to go to heaven and by what Christ has done in Him alone.

But it’s truth, it’s held in agreeable, winsome, non-defensive – and it’s not a way of pushing it on other people and it’s never argumentative. But it’s unwavering. Steadfast, striving, battling for the truth, standing firm, lovingly, kindly, winsomely. But refusing to move off. He says, “Unity is rooted in truth.”

Second, he says, “Maintaining the same love.” He says, “It’s not just about the truth.” This phrase here is, “Have the same love,” mutually love one another the way God has loved you – honestly, sacrificially.

We talk a lot about Romans 12 here as the profile of what it is to be a disciple. And in Romans chapter 12, there’s a section in the middle about loving one another and it says, “Outdo one another in honor. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” This is the idea. This isn’t like some, “Yes, well, you know, she’s not as spiritual as I am and I guess they made a mistake and so I’ll treat them and I’ll forgive them because I am superior.”

And he said, “No, this has got to come from the heart.” Biblical unity has to do with a genuine spiritual transformation that flows from an internal passion and concern that God gives you because you have received it, now you give it.

Third, notice, it has the idea of: united in spirit. Literally, the phrase is: like souled. It means to have a common heart. Not just that you care. A common heart. That you’re real, that you’re authentic, no superficiality.

And then the last one here is: intent on one purpose. It’s a unity that you say, “We are in it together. We are going to resolve our issues. What God has done for me, I am commanded to pass on to you. Paul, we are going to make your joy complete. And here’s how we are going to do it: we are going to be one mind – truth; we are going to be one heart, care for one another; we are going to have one soul, we are going to connect; and we have a common purpose: the gospel going forward.”

People being loved, the poor being fed, people with HIV knowing someone cares, the people that are struggling with sexual identity issues know there is a church somewhere that cares, that wants to help, that doesn’t condemn, that doesn’t bend on the truth, but actually wants to help people that are marginalized and struggling.

This is what he is talking about. And it’s that kind of love that turned the world upside down, and continues to turn the world upside down family by family, small group by small group, church by church, community by community.

God has called this church, at this time, when it appears that the world is falling apart and that America is so divided – God is calling you and He is calling me! “Make my joy complete, my children. I want you to choose to love.”

And when you cross your arms and say, “Not after what they have done to me,” or, “I think those people are crazy and why are those people doing this and why are they tweeting that and I am so ticked off!”

Can you imagine, honestly, honestly, can you imagine the God of heaven looking down upon the creation that He has made and then looking closely at His people, the Church. I don’t mean buildings. People within the Spirit of God, He’s living. You talk about someone that ought to be ticked off. And, yet, He is patient and kind and gracious and He is saying to you and He is saying to me, “This is a priority. This is a non-negotiable. I am commanding you to choose to love one another.”

Not the golden rule. The platinum rule! I want you to love other people the way that I have loved you. Now, I hope at this point you’re saying, Okay, I get it. And those of you that are a little more honest with yourself, could be saying, I can’t do that. And you know what? You’d be right. I can’t either.

In fact, God doesn’t expect you to be able to do it. But He is going to tell us exactly how. So I want you to go back to that former business associate, that ex-mate, a dad, a mom, a son, a nephew, an in-law, a current reality at work, a current – maybe it’s not a huge conflict, but something that keeps rubbing you the wrong way with a roommate or in your marriage.

And then I want to open the text and what we are going to learn from God’s Word, if you’re willing, is that we can choose love and we can learn how.

And the question is: how to become a more loving person. “Choose to declare war on,” write the word, “selfishness.” Choose to declare war on selfishness.

And, as usual, when I go high-tech here, my iPad is not working so I think I’ll go with a little bit less technical one that you all have. Turn to Philippians chapter 2, if you’re not already there. And let me, let me read for you this command. Philippians chapter 2, we have looked at verses 1 and 2. Follow along here in chapter 2 as we read verses 3 and 4. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but in humility of mind, consider others more important than yourself.” Verse 4, “Let each of you look not only on your own interest, but also on the interest of others.”

You may be looking at this and saying, “Declare war – aren’t you getting a little radical here?” No. No. We are born with this innate ability to be selfish. In fact, let me define selfish ambition, here. Four words: “I want my way.” That’s selfish ambition. I want my way.
How to become a more loving person. “Choose to declare war on,” write the word, “selfishness.” Choose to declare war on selfishness.

And, as usual, when I go high-tech here, my iPad is not working so I think I’ll go with a little bit less technical one that you all have. Turn to Philippians chapter 2, if you’re not already there. And let me, let me read for you this command. Philippians chapter 2, we have looked at verses 1 and 2. Follow along here in chapter 2 as we read verses 3 and 4. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but in humility of mind, consider others more important than yourself.” Verse 4, “Let each of you look not only on your own interest, but also on the interest of others.”

You may be looking at this and saying, “Declare war – aren’t you getting a little radical here?” No. No. We are born with this innate ability to be selfish. In fact, let me define selfish ambition, here. Four words: “I want my way.” That’s selfish ambition. I want my way.

You might jot down: it’s a “me first” mentality. I want to be first in line. I want the best spot. I want to get on the plane first – that’s one of mine. I want to get to work first. When I go through the buffet, I want the best piece of meat. I want the best promotion. It’s me first. I want my needs met in this marriage. I want my mom and dad to come through for me. I want my professor to give me what I want, when I want it.

It’s a “me first” mentality. I want to be number one. I am selfish. Now, it’s very unpopular to admit that. But what is hard to see in ourselves, isn’t it easy to see in others? You get out on the freeway, are people selfish or what? This isn’t out there somewhere, either. Anybody here tried to get out of the parking lot here? Especially the eleven o’clock service.

Now, there are some people, very Christian, wave you in. And there are some of you that are still working on it. Let me put it that way. But we are selfish. But you don’t slide out of being selfish. Even though the living Spirit of Christ lives inside of you and you are born again and you’re a part of the kingdom of God – there is this battle.

Galatians talks about the Spirit wages war against the flesh. This predisposition toward my way, my stuff is rooted in your heart and you’ll have it until the day you die. But the Spirit of God can give you the ability to, in humility – look at the second half of that text – in humility, consider others as more important than yourself.

Humility can be a very misunderstood word, so I came across a very, very interesting article. I think of humility as not thinking too highly of yourself, not thinking too lowly of yourself – but having an accurate, sober self-assessment. As one person said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. Humility is just thinking less about yourself.”

Beating yourself up, “I’m a terrible person,” that’s not humility, that’s not accurate. It’s just not letting you, it’s me not letting me be the thing and the person I think about all the time.

They are doing science now on the benefits of virtues – things like forgiveness. Or, they have done lots of research on gratitude. You may have read some of that. This is an article by a professor at George Fox University. It’s called The Science of Humility. It says, “Researchers have developed scales to measure intellectual humility, relational humility, cultural humility, and some are now working on spiritual humility as well.

“As with forgiveness and gratitude, humility fosters,” now, listen, this is what humility delivers. Are you ready for this? “Humility fosters physical and mental and relational heath, humble people are more grateful and forgiving, so they enjoy the benefits of those virtues. They are also, humble people are more generous and helpful to others.”

Hey, this is a good one. You want, “They have better romantic relationships,” for some of you, get humble right away, okay? “They have better romantic relationships, have less anxiety about death, and experience less spiritual struggle.” Those parents who are concerned about your kids? “People that are humble perform better at school, show more compassion to others, and even have better self-esteem than less humble people.”

So, in other words, they are doing scientific research, and what God has commanded, what delights our Father and what Christ modeled, amazingly, is that genuine humility – not putting yourself first, but actually considering the needs of others – it’s what we call around here, and you’ll learn more about in this series, it’s the “I am second,” mentality. It’s just goes completely against everything. I am second as I go through the line. I am second as I drive on the freeway. I am second when I think about my rights in my marriage. I am second when I think about the needs with my roommate. I am second when we are trying to divide something, right? See who gets the bigger piece.

The article goes on and says that, “Humility,” this is very important, “does not require self-loathing or self-belittling, but it calls for us to dial back our normal tendency,” are you ready for this? “to overestimate our abilities and behaviors.” Now, I never do that and you never do that, but there are some people out there who overestimate their abilities and their behaviors. And you know I’m teasing. I love it. He gives, there are three characteristics of people that are genuinely humble. Number one, they have a reasonably accurate view of themselves – neither too high or neither too low. Pretty biblical.

Number two is they care more deeply or have a concern and notice other people. And then, number three, is humble people are teachable.

So, genuine humility is rooted in some characteristics and according to this scientific study, which, actually is pretty biblical, whether they know it or not, is that they have a pretty accurate view of themselves. In other words, I’m not the center of the world. Are you ready? I’m not the smartest person in the room. My opinions aren’t always the best. My perspective of what we ought to do or my decision isn’t necessarily better than others. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t have good thoughts and my decisions and my perspective can be very valid.

So they don’t think too high; they don’t think too low. The second one is they really consider the thoughts, the interests, and the feelings of others. Humble people are sensitive. Humble people notice the person that when everyone gets out and walks out of here, humble people see the people that no one said hi to. Humble people notice the needs of other people.

Genuinely humble people, I am always amazed that, maybe I’ll have a passing conversation with someone and a week later, two weeks later, get a note or get something in the mail. I was meeting with someone a long time ago, and they watched me fiddle with trying to recharge. You’ve got all these recharges and all this different stuff. Out of the blue, a week later, I get a package. There’s no name, there’s no note, there’s no anything. I don’t know what it is. I open the package and it’s one of these bars that has one, two, three, four, five where you can hook in your phone, everything else with the plug and you plug the thing in. I use it every day. Humility. Someone didn’t say a word, saw I had a need, and addressed the need.

And, third, and I think this is big. They are teachable. They realize they are on the journey too. How humble are you? For some of your personalities, I just want to say: please, please don’t go to, Oh, I came to church today. I’m a terrible person. Everything he’s talking about, that’s me. I’m an arrogant, terrible person. You know what? Guess where your focus is at this moment: it’s on you.

At the heart of not being humble is not thinking lowly of yourself, belittling yourself, condemning yourself. In fact, the second way to become more loving is: attack the root of the problem. And then I want you to write in the word: pride. Attack the root of the problem.

If you will, right underneath where you see verse 3, circle the words empty conceit. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit.” Selfish ambition – selfishness is what we do. The root of the problem is why we do it. That’s empty conceit.

Or, I love, write this word down. I love this phrase. It’s an old, old, old version of King James. “Vain glory,” empty glory. You say, “Well, what is vain glory? What is empty conceit?”

Well, a good street name is pride, that that’s sort of, it’s a big word. Let me give you some very specific pictures of empty conceit. Empty conceit is: I’m better. I’m more important. I’m superior. I’m more intelligent. My time matters more than yours. My life matters more than you. I have greater value. I have greater worth.

Now, you may not say that outside in your head, but our behavior, our behavior just screams: vain glory! Did you like the way I said that? Glory! Right? It’s this: I’m the center of the world and I can clothe it with all kinds of Bible verses and I can actually, in a Christian way, do image management to try and project I’m humble. Which is at the empty conceit – the idea is: I want everyone to have this amazing opinion of me that I either want for myself or I actually think I have.

I made a list, because this got very convicting and I thought, Oh boy. I made a list of some ways that, when this happens in me, okay? This isn’t you. This is me. When these things happen in me, what I know is vain glory, empty conceit, pride is raising its ugly head.

And then I’m going to talk to you about how to go into training. And did you notice the violent words I have used? Declare war! Attack! In other words, you’ve got to get to the root of the problem. This isn’t about, “I think I’m going to try and be more loving and I’ll tell someone I forgive.”

No. This is hard stuff, root stuff. This is stuff that is so deeply in your psyche and in your soul and mine, that you have to declare war. I refuse, in light of what God has done for me, to be a selfish person. I am going to attack the root problem. And the root problem is in my thinking. I become the center of things, even subtly, because in my thinking I think I am better or I want to project that I’m better. In my thinking, my time and my money and what I do is more important. And it’s lethal. It destroys relationships. It’s unloving.

And, so, when these things happen in my life, what I know is pride, defensiveness, someone makes a comment to me and my – immediately – it could be my wife, it can be in a meeting, it could be one of my kids, it could be someone I don’t know very much. They say something or talk about something, and I hear myself, I’m defensive. Well, why? Because I’ve got to guard, I’ve got to prove, I’ve got to protect whatever they have said that hit a button inside.

Second, making excuses. My pride. I didn’t do it wrong! I didn’t mess up! It was them! It was late! It was the traffic. If they would have done this one time, I would have had it on time. It’s, you name it.

In fact, related to that one is when I hear myself blaming other people, I know that’s pride. In other words, don’t look at me and think it’s my fault. See, humility, you know what humility does? And it actually gains. It actually gains the credibility of people when you actually make a mistake, when you’re actually late, when you really blow it, when you don’t come through – it’s amazing what happens when you say: “Hey, I hope you all, I just apologize. That was a deadline. I didn’t hit it. I could give you a number of reasons. None of them really measure up other than I didn’t use my time wisely, I went down some bad paths in terms of how to solve this problem. I’d like to ask you guys to forgive me.”

You know what normally happens? Everyone in the room knows they do that too. But so often we blame, we make excuses.

I was perpetually late for almost everything for years. You know the guy that is dashing onto the plane in the old years, before there was all that security? Or the person who is rushing in and running out of the parking lot and coming in two minutes late or five minutes late?

And then I had a breakthrough. My problem was not being late. My problem wasn’t self-will. My problem wasn’t discipline. My problem was grandiosity. And when I saw that, it was so ugly, I changed. Some of you are saying, “So, what exactly is grandiosity?”

Grandiosity is thinking whatever you are doing is so important. And if I can say this kindly, we come here on a weekend to adore and give our very best to the Creator of the universe and the Savior that died upon a cross to pay for our sin and rose from the dead and has given us eternal life.

The grandiosity to come in five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes late; the grandiosity of, during a song or during this time when I am teaching the very Word of God, you checking your email and having your phone open is arrogance.

I always hear pastors say, “I don’t want you to feel guilty.” Actually, I want you to feel guilty. If you’re guilty, guilt is a really good thing. If there is genuine sorrow, you repent and you realize, Oh! I never thought about it that way. I’m not saying you thought of it intentionally. I’m just telling you what it is.

If this was a U2 concert, this place would be packed two hours and people would rush to get in. When you buy tickets to a movie, you don’t go a half hour late. See, we have a consumer mindset. There is a grandiosity and an arrogance.

And it needs to be changed. And so notice point number three is: choose to practice humility daily by putting others’ needs and interests ahead of your own. Don’t consider just your own interest, although the passage is clear, take them into account. But consider the interests of others as more important than your own.

“Where are we going to go to eat?” “Where would you like to go to eat?” Maybe this person has to get to work, it’s as important or more important than you!

What would happen? What would happen if we declared war on selfishness, if we said, “I’m going to attack the root of this problem, which is really my own pride, this empty conceit, this vain glory. And then, this week, I’m going to go into training. And I’m going to choose very specifically, in little, little things that will grow into bigger and bigger things. I am going to choose in my money to be generous. I’m going to choose in my time to be generous.” And we will talk about exactly how, very specifically, to put that in practice.

Ask yourself: Where does my money go? Loving toward God and others, or me? Where does my time go? Toward God and others, or me? Where does my energy go?

Father, I pray now as there are many, many, many relationships that are fractured. And it will require only one person to admit, at the heart of it, regardless of the other person, that pride and selfishness and arrogance is at the core and a repentance before You. And then the next steps of asking forgiveness and restitution and even reconciliation in some cases where it’s possible.

So, Lord, would You bring to mind, in this room, the people that need to get a call, a lunch, a coffee, a text, a letter, a note of apology so that we could love others the way you have loved us?