Self Love

This is worth repeating! Who do you love? Do you love your self?

What is the greatest commandment?

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

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 that part 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. I doubted my self worth, and I believed the lies the enemy was whispering inmy ear. I opened the door to my heart and let Satan in. There is nothing innocent or innocuous about a ouija board! The door had been cracked open the night we “played” with that board, giving the enemy an easy way into my mind. If it was so easy for him to get into the mind of someone who loved Jesus, 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. Our physical neighbors; our family, friends, coworkers; the staff at the coffee place or resturant or convenient store, even to – maybe especially 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 loving ourself doesn’t mean what the world wants it to mean. It isn’t selfish, “me me me” love. Self love doesn’t mean spending money you don’t have (i.e. credit card debt) to compete with others. It doesn’t mean spending hours at the spa being pampered, and it doesn’t mean that dream car/job/wardrobe, unless you have the income to enjoy those things after taking care of your responsibilities. 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. How we treat others is how we want to be treated, or it should be. Jesus also said And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31 ESV (Read verses 27-36) “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NASB

We don’t know their circumstances or how they came to be where they are. Our cab driver might have a PHD, and be unable (for whatever reason) to find work in his field. Our barista could be a person trying to make ends meet on a limited retirement income. We shouldn’t judge unless we are planning on living a perfect, mistake-free life. 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.

Addendum: I first posted this a couple of years ago, and when I read it, I knew I needed to make some adjustments (so I did). I also have to admit to spending too much of my time lately feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have the thing I yearn for, a partner to share my life with. I count my blessings of friends and family, and even with the struggles I face daily, I am blessed. I still want that partnership, and although I am exploring a friendship (long distance for now) and praying it (he!) is the one I’ve been waiting on, I am also working on praying and resting in my LORD, and trusting in His timing. Pray with me on that!

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“WAIT” He says……

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to You, “Your Face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not Your Face from me. Turn not Your servant away in anger, O You Who have been my Help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O GOD of my Salvation! Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalms 27:1‭, ‬7‭-‬9‭, ‬11‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

That may be my least favorite word in the English language. “Wait.” I’ve been waiting. I’m tired of waiting, so very tired of waiting. “Wait,” He says. If it were a clear “No,” maybe it would be easier to accept. I’m tired of being strong, and my courage fails me.

I’m not strong. I’m weak. I’m not courageous. I’m afraid. My heart is on the ground. My prayers fall with my tears. Why me, LORD? And He answers me, Why not you? I surrender, LORD.

I Hate Her / Him

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:22‭-‬24 NASB

“The life we live today will determine the life we will live for eternity.” Mark Hitchcock (Pastor, Faith Bible Church, Edmond OK)

Think about that for a minute. If I spend my time, my life, on earth holding a grudge against someone, hating them, how will that affect my eternal life? I know it can’t hurt my salvation, because that comes solely through God’s Mercy and Grace in Jesus Christ. It can, however, affect my eternal life.

Every person who has accepted Christ as their Saviour enters into an undeniable, unbreakage relationship with the Creator Father. We are saved from damnation with the enemy for all of the ages. That is indisputable. The question of all time is what will it be like, and how will we be when we get to that glorious place called heaven? Does how we live on earth affect our lives in heaven? The Apostle Paul thinks it will:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 9:24‭-‬25 NASB

“….. for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NASB

We are striving for an imperishable wreath, or crown, in our lives. One that will be rewarded to us at the Bema Seat when we first see Jesus, and that will stay with us throughout eternity. Those people I want to hate because of their actions – is it worth it to lose out in my relationship with Jesus Christ? Is it worth losing out on the rewards He wants to give me? Turn them over to Jesus. Lay them at His Feet. Let Him deal with their lies, betrayals, ugliness. I don’t need that trash cluttering up either this life, or the next!

Willful Disobedience

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of Grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine , I will repay.” And again, “the LORD will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26‭-‬31 NASB

We can know the truth, but sometimes in the moment (oftentimes?) the reality is that we think we know better and that what we are doing isn’t really a sin. Anytime – any time – we are willfully disobedient we sin. Did that strike a nerve? It did with me. I sin many times daily, but I don’t (usually!) consciously choose to do so. If I know the risk, and do it anyway, is that being willfully disobedient? If I choose badly, no, when I choose badly, especially in big decisions, my body immediately tells me. My stomach clenches. I get crazy butterflies….. or an angry swarm of bees….. in my gut. An indescribable ache starts up betweenmy eyes. Then when the error manifests itself and becomes obvious, my heart drops and fear tries to overtake me.

My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your Love….. I could listen to this, and sing along with Josh Baldwin, all day, but right now, my heart is on the floor, and Mercy Me’s lyrics to Even If resonant within me.
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

It is well with my soul. I know it, but I can’t feel it. I know to let God lead. His hands are holding me, no matter what. I know this, but right now I don’t feel it, and that’s on me. All He can do is offer. It’s up to me to accept His help. Amen.

How WONDERFUL I Am

“Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!” – 2 Corinthians 10:12 NLT

“God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.” – Matthew 5:5 NLT

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1 NASB

“But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” – Matthew 23:11‭-‬12 NASB

“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10 NASB

There’s a definite theme here. It’s human nature (i.e. sinful nature) to elevate ourselves and to be selfish. We want to be liked, admired, lifted up…. and I don’t think it’s wrong, necessarily, to want that. It’s when we begin to believe that we are better than others, superior to them, that we have conflict with the LORD. Jesus was a perfect example of humility. He acknowleged the political government, and He paid His taxes when due (Matthew 17:24-27). When accosted by the the authorities, He acquiesed. He was respectful of His parents, and the Rabbi’s in the Temple. He turned the other cheek when ridiculed and spat upon.

BUT. He defended His Father’s House when He came in to find it being defiled by the moneychangers and the sellers of oxen and sheep and doves (Matthew 21:12-13, John 2:13-17, Mark 11:15-17) by driving them out of the Temple.

Individually we must humble ourselves and follow the example of Jesus. Even collectively – or maybe even more so than individually – we must watch ourselves to ensure we don’t adopt a “holier than thou” attitude. I know I’m no better than anyone on this earth, but sometimes my brain forgets and I begin to think maybe I am. That’s the enemy, whispering lies. I’m not about to go about telling people I’m humble, because I’m not. I try, and fail, constantly. Thank GOD for sending His Son to redeem me; hallelujah! In my perfectly imperfect self, I am only confident of one thing, and that is the Salvation of Jesus Christ. Through Him, I gain real, true humility.

Have you opened your heart to the Saviour?

Yes, I Alone –

“ ‘But you are My witnesses, O Israel!’ says the LORD. ‘You are My servant. You have been chosen to know Me, believe in Me, and understand that I alone am GOD. There is no other GOD — there never has been, and there never will be. I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,’ says the Lord. ‘From eternity to eternity I am GOD. No one can snatch anyone out of My hand. No one can undo what I have done. I — yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for My own sake and will never think of them again.’ ” Isaiah 43:10‭-‬13‭, ‬25 NLT

Is there anything ambiguous about this passage? No! He is GOD. THE God; the only God. Why do we insist on elevating other things to His rightful place? He is in control. Whatever I am anxious about, whatever is causing me pain, whoever is trying to harm me, wherever I am, GOD, the LORD, has it all in His Hand. He knows. If I know this, how can I purposely cause anyone distress, including myself through my doubt?

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6‭-‬7 NASB

Lord, I cast all my cares to You. You know me so well. You know that even as I lay my burdens and cares down at your feet, I am reaching to pick them up again. Help me, LORD, to let go of those things that burden me; to trust You. I know You have my back. Why do I keep doubting?

Listen to Finding Favor sing their song Cast My Cares from the album Reborn.
When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steals my breath away
When my back pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only One who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

Top Rule of Living

For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” Matthew 7:2 NLT

That’s a lesson that we need to be reminded of, over and over, from the youngest age and on throughout life. We hear the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) Do we apply it in our lives? It takes on a little more importance when they are learned together. Not only does how we treat others determine how we are treated, but we will be judged by how we treat them. As critical as it is to treat others with fairness and respect, keep this in mind also.

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” Matthew 7:6 NLT

That is not to say that we should treat those people with disrespect or with loathing. I believe that we – Christ followers – need to be especially circumspect in our treatment of those whom we view as unholy. There’s a fine line between loving the person and hating the sin, and losing the love altogether to hate both. It’s easy to lose ourselves and fall in with them, and get our hearts trampled in the process. This is why it is so important to stay in fellowship with other believers.

“….. and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24‭-‬25 NASB

Love one another, but don’t focus so hard on the person that you can’t see what surrounds them. Do you see positive people and things, or are they surrounded by chaos and insanity?

“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:20 NLT

Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? Do you feel the need to “win” by beating everyone around you? (This is so me…..) Our “fruit” doesn’t have a chance to grow or mature when we are busy trying to “one-up” each other, or “keep up” with others. My actions need to reflect my beliefs, and not be dependent on anyone else’s behaviour. How I treat others needs to based on GOD’s Word, not man’s, and how I view myself needs to be from the Father’s focus, not mine. If – when – I view myself properly as a child of the King, a Princess in the Kingdom of the Almighty God, it is far easier to view others with a benevolent spirit.

It’s a much nicer view than the alternative!