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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Love God, Love Others, Love Yourself

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Matthew 22:36-39

With February being the month of love, I was thinking about who we should love.  This verse above tells us who we should love.  First, we must love God.  It's the first and the greatest command given to us by God.  Second, we must love our neighbor....we must love others.  These "others" will be our spouses, our children, friends and other family - basically everyone else.  And lastly, but just as important, we must love ourselves.  I mentioned in a recent blog post, in order to truly love others as we should, we must love ourselves.  

Our love for God must supersede (FYI: this spelling IS correct, though it seems wrong!) all other love.  Why?  Because in order for us to know and appreciate the love of God, we must understand all that He has done for us.  He gave His ONLY Son for YOU.  He gave His ONLY Son for ME.  That is how much He loved YOU!  That's how much He loved ME!  He loved us enough to give us Jesus.

Loving others in the way God wants us to means taking care of their needs.  It means to serve them.  It means to put them and their needs above ourselves and our own needs.  Loving others is submitting to them and giving up our selfish desires.  Sometimes that's hard to do because those selfish desires get in the way and cloud our thinking.  But, just as Jesus points the way and shows up God's love, He also points the way and shows us the way to love others.

Loving ourselves may seem like a simple and easy thing to do, but sometimes it's not.  In fact, sometimes it really, really hard.  Sometimes we get down on ourselves.  Sometimes we mess up.  Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we feel defeated.  Sometimes we feel worthless.  It's hard to love God and love others when we're thinking such low thoughts about ourselves.

On the other hand, loving ourselves may be way too easy.  Maybe we think of ourselves more highly than we ought (Romans 12:3).  Maybe we excuse our bad behavior and character traits instead of trying to better ourselves.  Maybe we're prideful, arrogant, self righteous.  Maybe we believe we've done everything alone to get to where we are in life.  This kind of thinking doesn't have room for others and it certainly doesn't have room for God.

In the areas of loving others and loving ourselves, the key is balance.  God must be our first love, but we must also recognize God as the creator of all things....the ruler of all things...the judge of all things.  HE is everything.  His gift of Jesus is everything.  We must recognized these important facts.  

The balance of loving others and ourselves is crucial to healthy spiritual living.  We shouldn't neglect ourselves physically, mentally, or spiritually, but we mustn't neglect those needs in others, either. God, as Creator, created us in His image.  If we don't love ourselves and love others, what are we saying to God?  That we don't love His creation?  It would seem so, wouldn't it?

So, during this month of love, let's each make it a point to strive to love God each and every day.  Let's love others and see their needs.  And finally, but just as important, let's love ourselves. We can love others and love ourselves only by keeping our eyes focused on the One who loves us most - God.  We can love others and love ourselves only by keeping our eyes on the One who gave His life for us because He loved us so - Jesus.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 
1 John 4:7-11

1 comment:

Wa Wa Waughs said...

not a coincidence that your post talked about how it's hard to love ourselves sometimes...been down myself with the winter blues and a scripture pulled me out of it!

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