James asked in James 4:1, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” These warring passions can produce covetous desires that manifest themselves in quarrels and fights. When our covetous passions are aroused, we fight because we see other people as either obstacles (who must be removed) or tools (who shall be used) on our path to pleasure. By God’s grace, let us refuse to see other people as an obstacle or a tool, but as a neighbor (who deserves our love and respect). Consider:
- My Neighbor is Different. We are all different and that is intentional. God intentionally made us different. Consider your children and how different their personalities and preferences are. While it is good that they are different, what usually happens when they interact? Their differences, if allowed, will cause them to fight and argue with one another. As we all know, this is not limited to children. Get at least two people together and you will have at least two different opinions and a multitude of preferences. With Jesus’ help, we refuse to allow our differences to drive us apart. When we have a mindset of thankfulness, we will carefully navigate these treacherous waters.
- My Neighbor is My Equal. We are different and we are equal. Every human being is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). Having a mindset of thankfulness means that I do not consider myself your superior. Money, possessions, age, and/or beauty—regardless of what our society may say—are not standards for determining superiority. Our nation is blessed to be founded on this principle. The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” With Jesus’ help, we refuse to elevate ourselves in pride at the expense of others
- My Neighbor is Unique. We are equal and unique. This has profound implications because it means that we are special creations of God who are worthy of honor and respect. Consider the alternative: if humans are equal and common, their life is not special and no more valuable than animals, insects, and plants. The implications of this view are devastating. Consider babies in the womb. Rather than the parents cherishing this new life and waiting for the baby to be ready to be born, parents disapprove of this new life and determine if they are ready for this child to be born. Devalued human life leads to babies being sacrificed on the altar of convenience. Consider the elderly. Rather than society rejoicing in their life and cherishing them near the end, society worries about them being a drain on society and encourages assisted suicide. Being equal and unique, however, means that we value one another because God values all of us. We celebrate life in all stages of life.
- I Love My Neighbor. The Heidelberg Catechism includes a section that describes the effect of sin on our relationships. It reads, “I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.” We cannot make ourselves love one another because only Jesus Christ can transform our hearts so that we can truly love our neighbor. The love that we need is the love of God. Romans 5:8 says, “But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Ephesians 2:4 mentions God “who is rich in mercy” has “great love for us.” This sacrificial love is not natural to man, but is available through faith in Jesus Christ. Christian, if you accept that other people are different than you and if you believe that all people are equal and unique, your love for them will increase. This is because the love of God will flow out of you towards others.
Are you thankful for other people? Do you see other people are obstacles or tools on your path towards pleasure? By God’s grace, let us refuse to see other people as an obstacle or a tool, but as a neighbor. A neighbor is worthy of love and respect. Let us give thanks to God for each other and strive to live in peace.
Grow Group Guide
Thankful for You
Take time this week to consider other people and ask God to help you grow in love and appreciation for them. Spend time this week reviewing the following questions:
- God has created us all similar yet different. How are we different? Why are our differences good?
- The Bible says that all people are created in the “image of God” (Gen 1:27). Every human being is created equal in God’s sight. With this being true, why do we elevate and devalue other people?
- God created humans equal yet unique. What does the uniqueness of man mean? What are the implications for abortion? Euthanasia? The sick?
- Prayerfully ask God to show you tangible ways you can show love to others.