36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'b]">[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'c]">[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Loving oneself isn’t easy. That is especially so when one is fully aware of the fundamental follies and weaknesses of human nature. I believe that Jesus said that we should “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind” first because until we love Him that well, we cannot really forgive ourselves enough to love ourselves very much at all.
You might ask, “Why do you not think that I don’t love myself? I eat. I sleep. I do everything necessary to keep myself alive.” I answer, we do that out of common courtesy to ourselves. We put up with ourselves and then in the end we either come to Christ or we can’t put up with these filthy, vile, unfulfilled little selves that we just give up. It looks different to different people. Some do it by trying to bury themselves in food, fashion, movies, video games, entertainment, sex, adrenaline rushes, money or any number of other things. Others try to put an end to it by committing suicide. Others try to numb the pain, by using drugs or alcohol. It doesn’t really matter how people act it out, but we hate ourselves and do our desperate best to hide from ourselves.
That’s where God comes in. He understands us and can love us despite the junk that we so want to hide. He sees us for who we really are, His perfect creations, only needing the perfecting touch of His grace! A breath of fresh air! When we accept His grace, we gain the perspective of Christ. For those of us who have accepted Christ, we can look at ourselves and see us as God sees us. For me, this is hard. I always revert back to the old way of thinking and see myself as this failure that constantly messes up. But when I look at myself through God’s lens, I see His perfect creation in an imperfect world, growing towards Him. When I look through God’s lens, the self-hate that I hold, becomes disgusting because if I hate myself, then I am hating God’s creation that was bought at the very great cost of Christ’s blood.
“ Love your neighbor as yourself.”
After we begin to love ourselves, we can begin to love others. Part of the old way of looking at things was to expect others to fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts that only God can fill. We wanted to get all we could, but now, with the new vision of Christ, we can look at other people as they truly are— God’s beautiful creations living out their lives in a fallen world, influenced by evil, and prone to wander from the right path. Once we realize that, we need to take it a step further and forgive others for not being perfect. Just as Christ forgave us for our imperfections and we had to learn to forgive ourselves, so also must we learn to forgive others for their faults and blemishes. After all, grudges don’t do anyone any good and can lead to greater harm than good, especially for the holder!
God loves you.
He knows about the bad things in your life, but He forgives you.
You need to be aware of your fallen nature, but turn it over to God. He wants to deal with it! Let Him wash it away and when it’s gone, forgive yourself!
Be aware of the short comings of your fellow human beings (who doesn’t notice?), but like Christ, allow them to be human and show them love and grace.
Now, may the grace and peace of Christ Jesus be with you always, through your pains, fears, joys, and all seasons of life. Blessings!