What does He mean when Jesus says that I am to love my neighbor as I love myself? A Pharisee asked Jesus to tell them which of the 10 commandments from Moses was the most important. Here is what Jesus said:
“‘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
He took a long list of rules and told us succinctly what we need to do. First, LOVE GOD, and second, love others equally as we love ourselves. When a child is traumatized, it becomes a lifetime issue. So many people believe that they are unlovable because of past circumstances and situations, and it can manifest in different ways. How we love ourselves, or self-love, is directly related to that past.
Self-love doesn’t mean egotistical focus on one’s self. A person I know believes these verses mean that God wants him happy in his whole life, so if someone or something makes him unhappy, he walks away… that includes wives, girlfriends (and boyfriends), children, and jobs. Whatever makes him “happy” is all that counts to him. Lying, cheating, and stealing are all acceptable for him to do if it gets him what he wants, because his desires are all that matter. His is an egotistical self-love that doesn’t leave room for anyone else. On the other extreme is the person who takes this to mean that they are to serve others to the point that others use them and abuse them.
How, then, do I manage to love others the way God wants me to love them?
First, I have to LOVE God with my WHOLE heart, my WHOLE soul, and my WHOLE mind. Only then can I know what love is, and how can I share something if I don’t know what it is? Think about that for a minute. Where is your heart right now? Your soul? What is your mind focused on? Until we focus them all on Christ, I don’t believe we can truly love others.
These verses are a great and terrible example of how we can feel about our lives before the Love and Light of Christ Jesus shines into us:
“May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’ That day – may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it. May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm it. That night – may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months. May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it. May those who curse the sea curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan. May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn, for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide trouble from my eyes.” – Job 3:3-10 NIV
This prayer, taken from the NIV Ragamuffin Bible, is how I want to go forward:
“Uncompromising trust in the love of God inspires us to thank God for the spiritual darkness that envelops us, for the loss of income, for the nagging arthritis that is so painful, and to pray from the heart, ‘Abba, into Your Hands I entrust my body, mind and spirit and this entire day — morning, afternoon, evening and night. Whatever You want of me, I want of me, falling into You and trusting in You in the midst of my life. Into Your Heart I entrust my heart, feeble, distracted, insecure, uncertain. Abba, unto You I abandon myself in Jesus our Lord. Amen.’ “
If we pray this prayer, we open our hearts and soul and mind to God and in doing so, allow Him to guide us to truly love others. Make sense?
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel…” – Philippians 1:27 NIV
(All scriptures are from the YouVersion.com Bible app http://bible.com)