We fill our calendars and our lives with things to do…and even strive to include good & ‘godly’ things such as family time, church activities and devotional times. The speed of life seems to whirl more quickly with each passing year. Jesus calls us to come to Him for His yoke is light and He gives rest. He summed up our duties of life in only two commands. Perhaps life would feel more manageable if we focused just on those two things…let’s consider.
The first commandment, though immensely challenging, makes instinctual sense to us. “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind & strength.” God designed our hearts to seek Him. Recognizing God’s greatness is a glorious, progressive experience which culminates in total worship of Him. But that second command is challenging from the start. “Love others.” Quite frankly, others are not always lovely. Then, it gets more difficult, “love as you love yourself.” Love me? Many times I am even more unlovely than others. Seeking to love God is a sweet challenge. Loving me—and loving others—is decidedly less appealing.
There is a beauty, though, in every word of Christ. This commandment is indeed a treasure chest we will delight in unpacking! The love Christ is compelling us to give to ourselves and others is ‘agape love.’ It is the pure, beautiful love of God which we behold and pursue in the first commandment. Paul articulates it in the ‘love chapter’ of 1 Corinthians. Paul helps us clearly understand that love is a verb…actions are what love is all about. Let’s look at those verses as just ‘actions’ for a moment:
Patient. I don’t need to get even.Kind. I seek to give and to do good.Content. I don’t want what others have.Humble. I don’t need to make myself look self-important.Peaceable. I don’t always have to be right.Courteous. I show respect.Serving. I don’t have to get my own way.Calm. I don’t blow up and lose my temper.Forgetful. I don’t keep a list of ways I’ve been hurt.Righteous. I want the best for others.Truthful. I love God’s word and try to obey it.Protective. I don’t say hurtful things about (or to) others.Positive. I believe the best about others.Hope. I believe good will come.Endure. I will not give up.
As we consider the actions of love, we realize that loving ourselves with His love is not self-centered at all. It is purely other-centered love rooted in the love we pursue in the first commandment. We can not give this love until we behold it in the presence of Christ in our own lives. To love ourselves is to be in relationship with Jesus—and that will transform us and our relationship with others. May your love for Him grow moment by moment and your life be transformed!