At House of David we love to sing the song, “Arms Wide Open” by Misty Edwards. At one point in the lyrics the songwriter asks, “What does love look like? Is the question I’ve been asking of you.” A friend of mine recently unpacked something that the Lord had been revealing to her over time in connection with this song and the commandment,“Love your neighbor as yourself.” I share those thoughts with you here.
“I was sitting thinking about those words ‘What does love look like?’ and the Lord brought to mind this passage of scripture…
“Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘Which is the first commandment of all?’ Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ So the scribe said to Him, ‘Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ But after that no one dared question Him.”—Mark 12:28-34
After reading through this section I asked the Lord, “Am I loving others well?” He said, “You tell Me.” So, I began to list the ways in which I show love to others. Then He said, “Yes, you have loved others well, but you have not followed My commandment.” Puzzled, I asked the Lord, “How is it possible to be loving others well, while also not following Your commandment to ‘love my neighbor?'”
The Lord then asked me to list all the ways I love myself. I sat back for a moment and began to ponder this question… That’s when I began to make excuses. I explained that I had always been hard on myself, that I didn’t have time to take better care of myself, that I would eventually take some time off… Patiently, He waited while I finished. Then He said again, “But you have not followed My commandment.” Exasperated I cried out to the Lord, and said, “But you just shared that I have loved others well! What am I missing?”
That’s when the Lord taught me a valuable lesson. He gently explained, “When I asked you to love others, I asked you to do this in the same way in which you treat yourself. However, while you’ll give great mercy to others, you refuse to forgive yourself. My commandment states that you must love others the way you're loving yourself. How would you feel if I enforced that instruction? Would you really be willing to love other people with as little love as you give yourself?’
I was heartbroken. In that moment I understood…
God is not selfish or stingy. He so enjoys to lavish us with His love. The sacrifice of His son, Jesus on the cross measured the incredible value He placed on each one of us. When I devalue myself, I lessen His gift. When I choose not to love myself well, I am saying that the image of God that I reflect is less important than others.
While our heavenly Father desires that we treat others with His love, this is not an excuse to neglect ourselves. Ultimately as we begin to allow the Holy Spirit to show us areas where we are disregarding our own needs, we will feel better about our self and be able to serve others out of the outpouring of His love, instead of out of a glass half empty. There are times to be sacrificial, and there are times to set healthy boundaries, as well. Oh…How He loves us! What a wonderful revelation of His love!
If you are struggling with self-hatred or find it difficult to love who God created you to be, we want to invite you to contact us for prayer. Curt Landry Ministries has a heart to see the Bride of Christ walk confidently in the knowledge that we are dearly loved by the coming Bridegroom, Jesus.