“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked Him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” — Mark 12: 28-31 (ESV)
Do you love yourself?
I know — a difficult (and awkward) question to think about, typically. Possibly one you’ve never thought about before. And yet, some 2,000 years ago, Jesus used this topic of self-love in what he calls to be one of the greatest commandments.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” has been dubbed the “Golden Rule” amongst society. Many religions claim to foster this life principle, stating that it encompasses anything and everything that people should be embodying in their daily lives.
“Treat others as you would want to be treated” is probably the way you’ve seen it plastered on coffee cups, pictures frames and bumper stickers. The problem is, though, we often ignore the second half of the quote.
We don’t really know how we should be treated. We don’t know how to love ourselves.
It’s why we are prone to hurt people — physically, emotionally, mentally — especially the people we care about most. If the way that we treat ourselves is full of shame, guilt, self-harm, self-degrading, etc., then it makes sense why we treat others poorly. We’re treating them as we treat ourselves; loving them as we love ourselves.
We are loved and cherished by the God of the universe, called His children, “more than conquerors,” and new creations. If we don’t view ourselves this way, and wallow in low self-esteem and criticism, we will treat others the same way. We will not freely enjoy the presence of others, we will view them as a threat to our reputation and state of being.
However, if we continue to press into and devote ourselves to believing the truth that Jesus loves us as we are, and that we can love, even “like” ourselves, we will experience a new freedom in our relationships with family, neighbors and strangers. We will love others because we have been first loved by Christ.
— Chris Pennington
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