In Mark 12:28-31, a scribe comes up to Jesus and asks, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘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.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
After putting God first and loving Him, Jesus says the second command is that we must love our neighbor. But HOW? How can we do this? The verse tells us when we look closely. It says we must love our neighbor ‘AS yourself.’
Unfortunately, many of us don’t love ourselves. It’s not necessarily because we don’t want to but that we just don’t know how to love ourselves. Some of us grew up with constant criticism and correction and are caught in a cycle of crummy thinking. Some days our self-esteem wouldn’t reach the baseplate threshold of the front door frame. We know quite well our shortcomings and sins. They loom large before us as we replay the records of the words of relatives who told us we were worthless. We hear loudly and clearly the whispered words of the father of lies (the devil) who unceasingly says that we’re not good enough and never will be. But, our physical fathers, forefathers, and the father of lies are not the measure or standard we need to heed.
When we look up at the the Lord of Love and remember the greatest command, we will see things differently. When we choose God for our Father and His Son for our Savior, we are blessed beyond measure. We are bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, who willingly laid down His life as an exchange for our sins and shortcomings. In Christ, we are a new creation and a called child of the Living God. We are adopted into God’s family, and He lets us and wants us to call him ‘Abba, Father.’ In Mark 14:36 as Jesus was dying on the cross He called out, “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Jesus took the cup, followed His Father’s will, and gave His all for you and for me.
In light of this, how can we fail to see that the God, who created the universe and everything in it and the God that holds it all together in his power and might, loves us. He loves you, specifically! He loves me, specifically! He knows the number of hairs on each of our heads. He knew all our days before they began. God is a Father like no other. He declares that we are worthy. He says that we are valued. He says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He says we are His. Stand tall my sister and brother. Bask in His great love. Put your hand in His and walk with wonder with the One who loves you more than the life of His own Son.
How can we love our neighbors? It requires that we must love ourselves. We must love ourselves, not because we are ‘all that and a bag of chips’ that but because of what God did to transform us into His pure, holy, and perfect children.
Today, as His beloved children, God calls us to take the cup of Love He gave for us and share that Love with one another. We can only do that if we love ourselves and see ourselves as God sees us.
The next time you look in the mirror, I hope you will look into your eyes and say out loud, “God loves me!” Let your voice speak clearly, “I am worthy, because Jesus gave His life to save me!” Tell yourself, “I am wanted and valued, because the God of the universe chose me and adopted me as very His own child.” I John 3:1 says, “See how great a love the Father has given us, that we would be called children of God; and in fact; we are.”
As we learn to love ourselves in the right context and way, we will be better able to love our neighbors and share the Gospel with them. Most people still don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Let’s learn to care for ourselves and when we do, we will be able to truly love our neighbors as ourselves.
I think on these things…
Robin Robbins House ©️