J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Living For Others Part 2 – Building Up Your Neighbor

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

Again, we have a command and the reason for the command.  First the command:  We are not to live to please ourselves but are to live to please our neighbor and build them up.  Let me read that again.  “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up.”

What a command.  Live to please your neighbor for his good to build them up.  Any time we hear the word neighbor, we need to apply it to anyone outside of our normal obligation of caring.  I don’t think I have to tell you that you are covenantally obligated to care for your parents and your spouse and your children.  Honor your mother and father.  Men, lay down your lives for wives.  Women, serve your husbands as you serve Christ.  Train up a child in the way he shall go and when he is old he will not depart from it.  Despite the fact that there are a million deadbeat dads or emotionally absent mothers, the heart is built with the impression of God that we are to take care of our family.

So, anytime we hear neighbor, it does not just include the people who live near you but anyone beyond your general obligation of care.  One time there was a lawyer who wanted to justify himself before Jesus so the lawyer asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus answered, “Love the Lord God with all your heart soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Well the lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”  Now the only reason you would ask “Who is my neighbor” is because you want to exclude some people.  You want to make sure you don’t have to care for everybody.  And what was Jesus’ response? Jesus’ told the story of the good Samaritan.  After being passed over by a Priest and a Levite, a half-breed pagan Samaritan cares for a man who had been beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road.  So who is your neighbor?  Basically anyone that God providentially places in front of you who is in need.

Paul says, “Reflect the love of God given to you by not living to please yourself but living to serve your neighbor and build him up.  We are called to give our lives away as a reflection of Jesus giving His life away.  Have you ever wondered if the reason you struggle so much with sadness, anger, depression, and discontentment is not because you don’t have what you want or even what you need?  It might be because you’re serving yourself and not because you are serving God and others.

Let’s say you’ve been working hard for several days in a row.  The kids are crazy and demanding a lot.  Whoever helps you, be it husband or wife, is not really helping you.  In fact, they are demanding of you.  You have other things placing demands on you as well (pta, CE group, project for work).  You feel like you are already serving everyone and you are miserable.

Folks, it’s in these moments that Jesus, the Gospel, and serving others seems to be the furthest from our minds.  But it is here that the gospel is the most applicable.  The Gospel is found in verse 3.

3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”

The basis of your forgiveness and peace.  The reason you have any hope for joy or love or change or transformation or anything you else you hope for is because Christ did not live or die for His own pleasures.  Why do we fall in the trap of thinking that we will be happy and joyful living in any other way than emulating our Savior.  Did someone tell you that joy came some other way?  Did someone promise you something different when you first asked Jesus for forgiveness of sin?  Did some pastor in a 7 button, purple suit promise you that your beautiful Savior lived, bled, and died so that the end goal of Christianity was that His followers could live fat happy lives?

We’ll we’re called to joy and happiness but it is a joy and happiness that this world knows nothing about.   Cars, clothes, money, vacations, health, guitars, boats, jobs, even rest.  They do not bring joy.  One thing will bring joy to your heart and if you embrace it, you will live a live emulating your Savior joyfully.  That joy is that Jesus took every reproach that you deserved and caused them to fall on Himself.

You see we fool ourselves into thinking that our important needs are our primary needs.  For sure there are needs that each of us have that are important (rest, food, health), but there are times we treat them as our primary need.  When we do that, we walk in despair, hopelessness, or some temporary delusion that thinks that pursuing those needs first will make us happy.  But your primary need and my primary need, our primary need is the absolution of guilt and reproach.  We spend more time dealing with that than anything else in our lives.

Without the removal of guilt and understanding that Jesus took it for us, it is impossible to live a live poured out to others joyfully.  You might be able to love others and serve them but do it begrudgingly.  At some point time, that poison is going to come out though.  You will feel unloved and under appreciated.

The joy found in verse 2, the reason that you can live for others and love your neighbors is that Jesus has taken your reproach.  Verse 3 is a direct quote of Psalm 69:9 – 9 For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.  In great zeal and love for God and His people, Jesus lived in a manner in which none of us have been able to live.  He took the social scorn and reproach that all of our secret sins deserve.  He willfully obeyed by taking the punishment each of us is due for our sins on the cross.  And he joyfully rose again to new life so that no one who has faith in Him will ever be subject to guilt or shame ever again.  There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

This is your greatest need met yet perhaps the most difficult to live and walk in.  When you run out of gas caring for your family, the reminder that you have no need unmet through the work of Jesus encourages you to go on.  When you see a co-worker, fellow student, person in the coffee shop or person in your neighborhood in need, if you are walking in the truths that all of your needs are met in Christ, you can either help meet others needs or help coordinate the meeting of their needs.  You don’t have to do it all yourself.


March 9, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. […] Living For Others Part 2 – Building Up Your Neighbor […]

    Pingback by J. Gordon Duncan | March 10, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] Living For Others Part 3 – Christ Lives For Us Part One of this series can be found here, and Part Two can be found here. […]

    Pingback by Living For Others Part 3 – Christ Lives For Us « J. Gordon Duncan | March 10, 2010 | Reply

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