When asked what is the greatest commandment,
“37 Jesus replied, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40 NLT (http://bible.com/116/mat.22.37-40.NLT)
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering that Jesus’ entire ministry is built around loving God and putting Him first. In fact, verse 37 is probably one of the most well-known verses in the entire Bible. I know that as a Christian, my heart and soul and mind belong to Jesus Christ; that He should be the Rock I base my life on. We’ve got it down pat.
But what about verse 39? How are we doing with this one? You’re probably wondering about my title “Self Love,” and what it has to do with loving God. Over the years, I’ve struggled with self worth. I still do. Who am I, what am I, and what have I accomplished with my life; does anyone even care? I turned to outside sources – self help books, non-Christian counseling, meditation, astrology, exploring “past lives”, séances and other secular avenues. You know, not a single thing I did improved my so called self worth. I was still the same insecure, searching soul as I was when I started that journey, and the beginning of that journey was very inocculous. At a slumber party, one of the girls had a ouija board, and we didn’t see any harm in playing with it.
I knew Jesus. I grew up with Him being a strong presence in our home, but something inside me was missing. I loved Jesus, and I wanted to follow Him, but I didn’t give my entire being to Him. Then I opened the door to my life and let Satan in. There is nothing innocent or innocuous about a ouija board! The door had been opened that night, giving the enemy an easy way into my mind. If it was so easy to get into the mind of someone who loved God, imagine how easy it must be for him to get into a mind who doesn’t know Jesus. Scary thought.
We know the first and greatest commandment. You must “…love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Pay attention to the second in verse 39 “…love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Your “neighbor” is not just the person or family who lives next door. Our neighbors extend beyond our dwellings, and encompasses every person on the planet earth. Every person. From physical neighbors, family, friends, coworkers, and the staff at the coffee place or a resturant or convenient store, to the smelly homeless person on the street.
You have to love yourself before you are even capable of loving another person, but we have to keep in mind that it doesn’t mean what the world wants it to mean. Self love doesn’t mean spending money you don’t (i.e. credit card debt) have to compete with others. It doesn’t mean to spend hours at the spa being pampered, or that dream car/job/wardrobe. I can’t condemn anyone for wanting to better their quality of life, because I do it, too. I really believe the lesson is treat each individual you come in contact with as a fellow human being. I don’t know their circumstances or how they came to be where they are. Minimum wage clerks should be treated with the same respect we give to sports figures, the CEO/CFO of our company, or anyone else. It’s difficult when dealing with certain situations to remember this. The next time a clerk is rude, tell them you’re sorry they are having a bad day, but Jesus loves them. When someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of cursing or flipping them off, think of the time you cut someone off. When we treat others rudely or with disdain, we aren’t loving ourselves or them. But for the Grace of God, we could be in their situation.
Seems like we all have something to work on.