Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Love your neighbor as yourself

Matthew 22:39
And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' (NKJV)

Oh, great, maybe you're thinking. Another study on this one verse.

Psalm 139:14
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well. (NKJV)

Song of Solomon 4:1
Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from Mount Gilead. (KJV)

Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. (KJV)

The big part of that verse that people focus on is the 'love your neighbor' part. That's kind of a huge part. But there's a second part to this verse. How do you love your neighbor again?
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Oh, right. We have to love ourselves, too. That's part of the 2nd greatest commandment, isn't it? Well, not the main focus of it, but a good portion. Jesus wouldn't have used the words if He didn't mean them.

Now, self love can be dangerous, especially for a Christian. Nobody wants to be with the girl who thinks she's the fairest in the land, or the guy who thinks he's Prince Charming. (I watch A LOT of fairy tales) But when I talk to teenagers at school or wherever, I notice who likes themselves. Who believes they're generally good people, look decent, have friends and think that God loves them, and who thinks they're ugly, stupid, good-for-nothing people, who have never met God or believe He exists? Are you thinking of someone for one or both categories? (There is a gray area, though... maybe you, like me, usually fall in there)

But God says we're not ugly. We're fair, without a spot. We're fearfully and wonderfully made. We've got doves' eyes and hair that looks like goats (a compliment in the days when this was written, I'm sure)
So if God made us fearfully and wonderfully, and calls us fair without a spot, why shouldn't we believe Him? He knows us pretty well, I think. God thinks we are beautiful (or handsome)! (This is not like when we roll our eyes at our parents because they say we look nice. He doesn't just say it because He's our Father!)

Why else wouldn't we love ourselves, if not for the way we look. Maybe you've been feeling pretty guilty about something. For this, I refer to something one of my friend's mom told me. "Be careful about the guilt, though, because the Devil uses it to keep you away from the Lord." If you're guilty about a sin you committed, ask God for forgiveness and His strength to overcome. If it's against somebody else, ask their forgiveness and do something to make it up to them. They just look bad if they don't give forgiveness, and you'll have done your debt to them by apologizing.

Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That can be one of the hardest commandments to keep, sometimes, can't it? And now we go and remind ourselves that there's another part to it. Never ends, does it? I think here of a song from Newsboys, as a note of encouragement, "Lights Out". "Don't go punchin' out/Til the final shout/And the Father says 'Well Done'."

In His Service

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