“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”-Matthew 22:36-40
What is the greatest commandment? Love your lord and love your neighbor. In a society that relishes in checklists, notifications, and constant upward momentum, we find this to be a relatively quick fix on following the laws God has set in motion for us.
While loving God can be complicated at times, it seems pretty straightforward. Praise him from who all blessings flow. Devote your life in servitude towards his kingdom. Got it, check.
Well, the loving thy neighbor is the next step. Sure, easy. Love others in a selfless way. Hmm, or at least try since we are innately selfish. But here’s an interesting spin on this concept…
Can we truly love our neighbors as ourselves, if we don’t truly love ourselves?
I think many of us struggle to truly love ourselves, and if that’s the case, how can we expect ourselves to love our neighbors unashamedly. Learning to love yourself where you’re at, despite your flaws, sins, or current circumstances can be quite a challenge. But, God clearly wanted us to understand this.
He mentions it first in Leviticus, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself” Leviticus 19:18
And then Matthew and Mark: “ 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.’There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31.
I think it’s easy to get into the mindset of I’ll be happy when I have this, or I’ll be complete once I complete this degree or this task, get that job, or this season comes to a
close. But what if we were able and capable of loving, living, and being
content in each and every circumstance? Wouldn’t that allow us to live more fully into God’s will and plan for each of us?
This commandment spills over into others. We see the flaws in others that we ourselves struggle with. Therefore, if we can learn to love ourselves despite these flaws and inherent sins, we can learn to genuinely love each other the way that God intended. This will enable us to strip the judgment from our eyes.
And if we achieve this sense of love, we can also learn to live fuller and more content lives, “of course, Godliness with contentment is gain”1 Timothy 6:6. So, love the Lord your God. Love your neighbor. Learn to love yourself, where you are right now.