July 10, 2013

Do I have to love me to love you?

            In the last message of our series called Progress Report at LifeSpring Church, I began with a passage from the Bible that is sometime known as the Great Commandment.
            In Matthew 22: 35-40, while explaining what the greatest commandment was, Jesus tells His audience “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  He continues to tell people the next greatest commandment was to “love your neighbor as yourself”. He placed added emphasis on these two explicit commands by saying, “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

On the surface, it seems Jesus’ comments mean the top two commands are: 
#1 Love God
#2 Love others
            Well, sort of… you see, there is an implicit command I believe many people don’t really want to deal with: Loving yourself.   In fact, since Jesus said for us to love our neighbor as ourselves, He’s indicating we must love ourselves BEFORE we can love others.  By loving ourselves before we love others, we’re providing ourselves with a reference point, comparison point, or measuring stick of how to love others.
            This means, before we can love others: our parents, siblings, best friend, girl friend, boy friend, children, spouse, co-workers, the check out clerk at Wal-mart, the missionaries in India, the homeless guy down the street, we have to love ourselves.  In fact, based on this scripture, I would say that.

No One Can Love Another 
More Than 
They’ve Historically Loved Themselves.

            So what’s so hard about loving ourselves?  Who knows my good qualities and attributes better than me?  I know what I like, what makes me happy, what brings me joy.  We know all the things that are loveable about ourselves, so what’s the problem we have with loving ourselves?  Why can’t I love ME?
            Because I also know my BAD qualities! I know where I’ve failed, lied, cheated, stolen, been prideful, been “fake”, and nasty.  I know when the things I said didn’t match my heart and how I really felt.  Truth is, many of us feel as thought the bad in our lives out weigh the good and therefore we feel as though we are unworthy to be loved. We believe we just don’t deserve to love ourselves.
            Ah, but here’s the twist.  Since the way we love others is based on the way we love ourselves… what should the way we love ourselves be based on?  Here’s a hint.

Rule 1: God Loves You!
Rule 2: When you’re in doubt or confused and feel as though you can’t love God anymore, can’t love yourself or can’t love others, refer back to Rule 1.
            The way we learn to love ourselves is by watching and learning how God loves us first.  The way God loves us even when God sees both the good and the bad in us.  Even when he sees our impatience’s, anger, arrogance, disobedience, filthy thoughts and desires, God still loves us. God still loves us enough to pursues us.  God still loves us enough not to give up on us.  God still loves us enough to send His one and only Son, Jesus to model Love for us.

            {This would be a good time for to look at Paul’s description of what love is in 1 Corinthians 13}

            So the next time you can’t love someone whose hurt you, the next time you can’t love that jerk that cut you off in traffic, or you can’t love your child because they disobeyed you, or you can’t love your boss because he just won’t do it your way, or you can’t love yourself because you screwed up again, or you can’t love yourself because you’re a quitter, just go back to Rule # 1: GOD LOVES YOU….pause and reflect on the way’s that God loves you.  
            When you do this, I think you may understand the same thing that one of Jesus closest friends and disciple did when he wrote in 1 John 4:19 the, “We love because he first love us.”

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