“Love the Lord you 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
What do you think of when you read those verses? I don’t know about you but I lean strongly toward the first verse thinking the Lord wants me to love Him with “all I’ve got.” While that may be true I can’t ignore the last part, “love your neighbor AS YOURSELF”. (emphasis mine) What in the world does that mean? What does that look like? For one thing, I haven’t spent much time thinking about this part of the verse…ever. I’ve been taught and have taught others that we are to love your neighbor. You know, I’ve told the “good Samaritan” story. Talked to my kids about being kind to all of the kids in their class etc etc but if you break down the grammar of that verse it is implying that we should love our “neighbor” LIKE we love OURSELVES. Love myself? Haven’t really thought about it much.
If I look around I’m very aware of two schools of thought.
1. Every commercial, lots of magazines and books and the attitude generally in today’s society says, “I AM ME. Let ME be ME.” I want…and I’m going to get it.
2. In some Christian/religious circles you are taught that it is vanity to spend time and money to “look” better. For example, don’t waste your money on alot of make up and clothes. Doesn’t matter if you are tired and have a huge project at work, if you neighbor needs help – get over there! 🙂
In my opinion there is a “grain” of truth – but pretty much only a “grain” of truth in both of these schools of thought. The Bible tells us we are to “love ourselves”. Love isn’t just a feeling. It is a decision to invest in another person. It’s a relationship. Relationships require that you know the other person. That you spend time with them. That you listen to them. That you tell them the truth and not just what they want to hear. That you encourage, challenge, and support them. Now think about yourself. I don’t know about you but until the last few years I can tell you that I didn’t spend much time doing any of those things for myself until a situation presented itself and I absolutely “had to”. For example my Senior year of High School I “had to” spend some time figuring out enough about “me” to decide what to do after I graduated.
Please hear the whole message here. Read all of Mark 12:30-31 again. It does not just talk about loving “me”. It talks about loving God with all we’ve got and then loving our neighbors. But it is implying that we have to love ourselves too. We have to have love to share love. We can’t give what we don’t have. When my husband crashed 7 years ago the counselor told him that his supply was empty. He described it like water going over a dam to feed a river. He said we are the “behind the dam” part and when we serve we should be serving from our supply behind the dam. However, if we have constant outflow we can drain ourselves dry and then we have nothing to give. When we run on empty we can hurt ourselves. There’s those well known verses in Ecclesiastes, “a time to laugh and a time to cry…”
We need to pay enough attention to ourselves to be sure that we are filled up. Why? So we can love the Lord our God with ALL of OUR heart, soul, mind and strength. (Did you notice it names every aspect of our lives – spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical?)
So today’s question is are you taking care of yourself?