Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”
27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
Tell me honestly…have you ever heard anyone expand on the words I have highlighted in the above verses?
Have you ever noticed them before? Those “love yourself” commands may make you a little uncomfortable. Sounds a bit selfish doesn’t it? But, I believe Jesus knew exactly what He was saying.
How are we going to love and respect our neighbor if we don’t know how to love and respect ourselves? We can do good works and more good works. I would guess our efforts would likely be out of duty…guilt….and the most offensive of all, to be seen and patted on the back by our peers. I know. It’s crazy. But we all do it. We do our good works to hide the brokenness inside of us.
I have taken on responsibilities and activities I had no business doing because I wanted to appear to be someone I wasn’t. Not wanting to be the outsider, I determined to impress with my devotion to a cause. I was being disingenuous and dishonest.
It would seem, the logical question would be..”how do I love myself in a way that enhances my relationships?” Here are some of the changes I have made in my life to encourage me on my journey of loving the people around me.
- Accepting the truth that I am worthy because God says I am. My value has already been determined and is non-negotiable. There is nothing I can do to add to my value. There is nothing more valuable than the Life that was given for me.
- I resist the urge to perform for approval. I’m accepted…I no longer need to perform or pretend I’m someone I’m not.
- I do practical things to care for myself, body, soul, and spirit.
- For my physical body that includes enough sleep, water, healthy food, exercise, fresh air.
- For my soul and my emotions, that means times of quiet and solitude, fellowship with friends, saying “no” to taking on more than I can handle, reading, journaling, hobbies, vacations to refuel and reflect.
- My spirit needs prayer, God’s Word, steps of faith…sometimes I take two steps forward and three steps back, resting in grace and mercy, forgiving myself and others.
- I choose to make my well-being a priority in my life. If I don’t, busy-ness will drain every last drop of energy from me. I make my own schedule. No one forces me into overcommittment.
- Family comes first. That includes kindness and respect. Have you ever had the phone ring as you were in the middle of yelling at a child or your spouse? How quick my voice transforms into sugar as I answer! From newlyweds to young parents to empty nesters…at every season of life you need time with your spouse. Time together is invaluable and nourishing to your marriage.
- I learned to set boundaries in relationships. I sought out the resources to help me discern what and who is healthy and safe.
- I give myself permission to fail. I am not perfect. I will make mistakes. I fail but I am NOT a failure.
As I am growing into the person I was created to be, I am finding I am able to love others with genuine motives, unconditionally, and without any strings attached.