II PETER 14
DENYING SELF OPENS THE DOOR TO LOVE
Let me remind you again that the list, which Peter makes in the first chapter of this book, is not a group of isolated qualities that one should incorporate into their personality. No, it is a total package that is wrapped up by the final total covering of “love”. To have part of these qualities, but not the others, is to not have a true Christian personality. To be temperate, but very impatient, is not fulfilling the requirement for being a Christian, or a “follower of Jesus Christ”. These are elements of a whole, and to develop one or more, while ignoring any of the others, means you have failed to “deny self and take up your cross to follow the Savior”.
I point this out because, as we look more deeply into the subject of “love”, we must be impressed with how much it demands suppressing “self”, and replacing it with concern for others. As Peter says, one who fails to develop all of these qualities is blind and cannot see into the future, and forgets that love has forgiven him from his old sins. The love which did that had to include each and every one of the qualities Peter lists here, for to leave one out would fail to give us the forgiveness we so desperately need. Read them over and see where you would stand if God had failed to treat you completely with every one of them. For example, I shudder to think where I would be if God had not been patient with me and my many failures.
The next step in examining “love” is to realize that the greatest hurdle we have to overcome is “self-interest”. The Devil “as a roaring lion” uses our animal desires to consume all of our spiritual concerns. When our human ego is threatened, Satan uses that to make us impatient and unkind to others. It is in situations where the self is
demanding, that we need to remember that the Lord is ever-present and ready to help us if we will acknowledge His presence and ask for help.
This is why Paul urges us to “pray without ceasing”, i.e., treat the Lord as a constant companion, and talk to Him often. Whether our self-interest is physical need or a competitive drive to get ahead and be recognized, it will always get in the way of showing love for others. Paul uses the phrase, “in honor preferring one another”, to describe the way a Christian acts in a competitive environment. The standards of our society are the very opposite of this, and the Devil uses them to defeat our efforts to “love our neighbor as ourselves”.
Our greatest enemy is our own self-interest, for it is the most powerful tool that Satan has to defeat the power of love to overcome. Because God is love, if the evil one can cause us to become weak in this essential quality, he can pull us further away from God.
However, as difficult as it is to deny my human tastes and desires, the rewards are great. To deny self-interest will make the home a more peaceful and loving place. It will make the church a unified and loving body. It will cause anyone to be a healthier and ultimately happier person, and one much nicer to know. Try denying your own
self-interests in favor of making others happy for a day, and see if that day does not stand out as a high-point of achievement and joy in your life.