“'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 NIV
You may be thinking, “Wait, I just read this”. You're not re-reading the same post. This week we're looking at what are arguably this verse's most overlooked words: “as yourself”. This addition to the commandment predicates our love for others on the quality of love we have for ourselves.
To love ourselves, we must know ourselves. We press into the Biblical word and prayerful conversations with God many times asking “what do I do, God?”. While this question is vital, a bigger question must first set the stage; “Who have you created me to be, God?”. Scripture is inundated with references to how our God knows us. This knowing is both a deep knowing, in which the nuances of our spirits are known, as well as a surface knowing, in which every physical detail and daily activity is known.
“but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.” 1 Corinthians 8:3 (NASB)
“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me” John 10:14 (NASB)
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5 (NASB)
"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7 (NASB)
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.” Psalm 139:1-4 (NASB)
When it comes to loving ourselves better, who better to go to than the One who first loved us and who first knew us? For some it is a challenge to love and treat others in the same way they do themselves. For many more it is a challenge to love and treat themselves in the same way they do others. How are you loving your body, mind, and soul? Seek God to show you more about the person He created you as- your gifts, your talents, your callings, etc. In correctly loving and understanding ourselves, we are better poised to effectively love others and to love the God who made us.