By Lyn Livingston
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT)
That’s what the pastor preached today.
As I got into the car to go home, my thoughts switched back and forth from the message to similar words I’d read in my Bible during my quiet time that morning. I felt anxious to get home and re-read the passage. However, several interruptions kept me from doing so.
Evening came before I could sit down and pick up my Bible. I re-read the verse I highlighted just that morning.
Remember His call, and live by the royal law found in Scripture: Love others as you love yourself. You’ll be doing very well if you can get this down. James 2:8 (Voice)
That last sentence stuck with me. God’s truth felt like a splash of cold water on a hot day.
How many of us really master loving our neighbor as we love ourselves? Sometimes, what sounds easy is the most difficult. I believe many of us think we do, but we fall short. We focus on doing for others, forgetting it is impossible to give away what we don’t have because we fail in loving ourselves.
Why it is so difficult to love ourselves? I can only speak for myself, and, friends, it didn’t happen overnight, but I kept looking for others to love me, not realizing that was impossible until I loved myself. If someone tried to love me, but I didn’t think I was worthy, I pushed them away.
Only after I accepted that my Heavenly Father loved me–just the way I am and with all the sins and baggage I carried with me–that I began moving in the right direction. I started unpacking the baggage of sin I’d been carrying. I know I will never be perfect, but I stand in the assurance that God loves me, and that truth helps me love myself more.
Now, I feel like I can give love more abundantly. I smile more. I say hello to strangers. I listen to God’s little nudges and seek His direction. I find someone who needs an extra hug, smile, wink, or hello and spread His love .
We never know when the smallest act of love or kindness given freely can change someone’s life–just like they changed mine.
Jesus is never pushy. He is gentle, letting God’s love shine through Him, attracting those who needed Him most. Friends, that is what we can do, too.
When we love ourselves, others will love us too.
When we love ourselves, we don’t have to wait for someone to love us to be worthy of God’s love.
When we love ourselves, we don’t pay attention to what others say about us. God says we are His beloved daughters.
When we love ourselves, we don’t worry that someone will push us away. We draw people to us.
When we love ourselves and look at others through God’s eyes, we can give love away abundantly.