It’s not about you. It’s about God and others… right? This is Christianity 101. There’s even a catch phrase to remind us- ‘Love God. Love People.’ It’s not that the phrase is wrong… just lacking one very vital person to love. Yourself.
There might not be many Christian blogs or sermons focused on self love, and I understand that. There is a clear focus in the Bible of denying self, and elevating Jesus and others. After all, the greatest commandment according to Jesus is to love God and your neighbors, isn’t it? For some reason the tail end of Mark 12:31 has been largely passed over. Well, today we are highlighting and underlining it, as it is key to a healthy life!
1. The Greatest Commandment:
‘You are to love the Lord your God, with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, with every thought that is within you, and with all your strength. This is the great and supreme commandment. 31 And the second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.’ You will never find a greater commandment than these.”
Mark 12:30-31 TPT
Let’s shout the words that we usually say without much thought.
“You must love your neighbor in the SAME WAY YOU LOVE YOURSELF.”
So what is the key to loving your neighbor well? Loving yourself well. Now I’m not talking about the occasional splurge of ‘treat yourself’. Loving yourself doesn’t consist of entitlement or selfishness. Love is not an emotional reaction of self desire, but a committed response of knowing your identity as a loved daughter. A woman secure in her Father’s love knows that by lifting up others, she is not worth less. A woman secure in her Father’s love knows that by being confident in her identity in Christ and walking out her purpose boldly, does not mean she is prideful. A woman secure, is a woman loved.
There is a reason Jesus gave us the most important commandment first- to love God with every ounce of everything you are. Notice this isn’t a suggestion, it’s a command. How do you feel when you just read the word, ‘command’? Fearful? Disconnected? Angry? Apathetic? Commandments are not given to intimidate us, they are given because God wants us to be fully alive, and He alone knows what will take us there! His command to love Him has nothing to do with his ego (He doesn’t have one), and everything to do with your freedom!
Now you may be thinking, ‘How do I love God like that? It sounds too overwhelming to even try!’ Let me answer that hypothetical question by asking you another. How do you come to love someone? Because they told you to? Probably not. And although to love God is a command, His heart of this scripture is not to force you into anything, His heart is that you would get to KNOW Him. How do you grow in love? You spend time with the person. You trust their character and intentions. Loving the Lord your God is not a threat, it’s an invitation! To love anyone else the way God loves, you first must first trust Him and love from who He says you are. He knows you can not love yourself or anyone else well until you first love Him- the creator of Love, Himself!
2. The Second Greatest Commandment
‘And the second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.’ You will never find a greater commandment than these.” Mark 12:31
Another teaching opportunity to learn how to live whole and impactful lives! Love your neighbor the same way you love yourself. If I don’t love myself well, I will not love others well. I will love because I need my validation tank filled, performing for others and/or God, or out of routine. Can I tell you..? That is not love at all. It’s brokenness, it’s pride, it’s religion. What happens is that we try to love others without loving (knowing intimately) God first, and eventually burn out.
We get our fuel for love from ourselves, and that is not sustainable or healthy.
Now, how do you know if you love yourself? We can find that out quickly, do you feel:
- constantly aware of shortcomings
- deserving of sickness and pain
Do you fear vulnerability and intimacy with people because you are afraid they will walk away from the real you? Are you overcompensating by appearing strong, hilarious, powerful with a devil-may-care attitude, but it’s all a facade?
If any of these describe you, I want to lovingly reach through this screen and tell you– it’s time to love yourself.
All of you. Even the parts that you don’t like, understand or want to change… it’s time to love yourself inside and out. It’s hard to love yourself when all you do is judge you. Look at yourself as you would look at someone you deeply care about.
You are worth loving, because you are His. Love is not a reward, feeling, or title that can be earned or taken away. Your confidence, strength, identity, joy and purpose are wrapped within these commandments. So, love your God with all that you are, and in turn you will see how much you are loved. When you see how much you are loved, you will value yourself because you are worth dying for! When you dare to love all of you, you will find you are not competing against anyone, and fear will be gone.
Now, lets love God, and love ourselves so we can love people well!