love YOUR NEIGHBOR as yourself
Love is in the air, or so they say. Heart shape balloons line the shop windows, couples are getting ready to celebrate—everyone’s showing love to others. That’s the idea anyways.
One famous thing Jesus said, a phrase that’s been said many times, in many ways, “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:32) While we’re busy showing love to our neighbors, the one person we forget to love is ourself. See, the first thing we hear in that verse is, “love your neighbor,” and that’s what we try to practice. That’s we take away from that verse and that’s what we tell others. But take a look at that last part, “as yourself.”
How many people can look in the mirror and say, “I love who I am?”
Paul says in Ephesians chapter five verse twenty-nine, “no one ever hated his own flesh.” I don’t know what people were like in Paul’s days, but these days, people can hate themselves more than they ever thought possible. Sometimes this comes from something we’ve done, other times it comes from something someone said. But we hate ourselves. We despise ourselves so much that we torture ourselves. Not only do we physically hurt ourselves, but we beat ourselves up with the most hateful words. We repeatedly tell ourselves a lie, until we forget that the truth ever existed and we live the lie. We may treat others in way so they won’t become our enemy, but we treat ourselves so that our own mind becomes our biggest enemy.
We are not perfect like God, but He thought His creation, our body and personality, was perfect when He created it. The things I just mentioned are fairly deep. They’re real problems, living in real people. But not all self-hatred runs that deep.
Self-hatred can sneak up on a person anytime, anywhere, and it can stay for five minutes, then it disappears. That happens to me a lot. Some self-hatred hovers over your mind, it doesn’t run deep, but it’s there. Every time someone complements you; every time someone speaks kindly of you. It’s not that you don’t appreciate it, it’s that you don’t believe it. If you accepted their complement, if you believed their kind words, then you would be praising yourself. You’d be unhumble. You don’t know if you’re all those great things someone says about you, but one thing you know you’re not, is self-centered. Bratty people are self-centered and you’re not a brat.
That’s the thing, a lot of times people who are confident in themselves are considered bratty. Most of the time, the word “brat” is aimed at a teenage girl, but it can go either way. Both females and males of all ages can be considered self-centered. But there’s a difference between being a brat, and loving the person God created: you. God premiered a marvelous design when you entered the world. He didn’t design a self-centered, careless person, He designed a person with humility, respect, and gratitude. For you are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
If someone’s complementing you, then they’re taking the time to show love to you. If someone noticed your way of life and they’re sharing their admiration, then they’ve taken the time to notice your true personality. They’ve taken time to spend with you and show you love. Others love you, they are showing love to you, like you are showing love to others. You are their “other.” Take the love their giving to you and love yourself. Accept the love that the Lord gives you every single day, and love the person He created you to be. You are loved, and because of that, you have the strength to love yourself.
In that verse (Ephesians 5:29) Paul also says, “they feed and care for their body.” We should care for a body God created, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
This Valentine’s Day set aside the self-abuse, shove the hateful thoughts away, accept the love from others, and love the person God made you to be: you. He made you to be you. In his eyes you were made perfectly and He wants you to be who He created you to be. If you do nothing this Valentine’s Day, if you do nothing besides remember that God’s love matters above all other love, then you’ve celebrated the best way you ever could. His love glows within your heart, and it’s enabling you to love the person you see in the mirror.
Wherever you are today, I pray you know the feeling of love.
Until next time,
Quick, before I leave, I wanted to remind you guys that my second book, The Mission, is out now on Amazon. You can check out my website to learn more about it or go to Amazon to order a copy now. If you do read it, let me know what you think. I always appreciate hearing from you guys. About both my books and my blog posts. 😀
*all Bible verses in this article are from the NIV*