By Marni Montanez
Mark 12:31 (New King James Version)
31. And the second, like it, is this: ĎYou shall love your neighbor as yourself.í There is no other commandment greater than these.Ē
What do you feel about yourself? Is there a smile that comes across your face when you think about yourself? Do you give yourself high-fives and pat your own back at the end of the day knowing you have done all you could to be your best? Can you sleep well at night knowing you didnít hurt anyone; at least not intentionally? Do you believe you have done your job to be a light in this world?
If this is how you see yourself then you might as well stop reading. This is for those of us who struggle with not being perfect and for those of us who repeatedly shake our heads at our own inadequacy and feel ashamed and disappointed and sometimes even disgusted with ourselves.
How do you really feel about yourself? Do you love yourself? If you are like me, it is very difficult to answer such a question. What does it mean to love myself? It means I would have to accept every part of me even though I may be struggling with that part. This means that in my times of doubt and fear, I would have to give myself grace because itís not that I have discounted Godís ability; it means I have misinformed my heart of Godís intentions and love for me. When I make mistakes, which are many, am I able to look at it in the face and take on the responsibility without taking on condemnation.
When I am hurt can I be my best support and assure my heart that all will be well. Do I laugh at myself and the crazy things I do? Do I enjoy how different I am made from others?
We are uniquely designed by a Creator who loves to create. He fashioned us with the desire for us to be comfortable and satisfied with how He created us. We were created in His image; this image is pure and just and holy. We are covered in His blood and wear His righteousness. This is a sacred position for us. It is a position of grace and mercy and abounding love and acceptance. Because of this truth there is no reason to see ourselves in any way other than the way God sees us. How can we help but love ourselves in this light?
The last part of that verse says that loving ourselves is just as important as loving others. This makes it even more imperative that we learn to love ourselves in a healthy way. I used to treat others better than I did myself, but now I see that I cannot truly love others if I donít sincerely love myself. They seem to go hand in hand; loving ourselves and loving others.
If we see inwardly at ourselves with the truth, we will also see outwardly at others with the same truth. We will always find things that we are not satisfied with in ourselves, but that is only because we compare ourselves with others. In this competitive lifestyle we see our downfalls and flaws, instead of unique and incredible differences that make us more of a blessing to each other. To look into the reflection or God-mirror that reveals the truth, we can love ourselves easily and sincerely. To look into the reflection of another humanís image is to look at a distorted view of ourselves. This is a false image so we need to appreciate others as they are, but we must start with appreciating ourselves the way God made us.
Challenge: seek to see yourself the way God created you. In His image you are perfect.
The purpose of this series is to encourage people to live as loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God: Jesus tells us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10) God tells us through Micah (6:8), "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God." And we know from Revelation 21:4 that there will be no more mourning, or crying, or pain, or death. Thus, Christian living requires us to set the standards of these conditions here on earth for our fellow human beings, and for the other animals, as a witness to the rest of the world. To do otherwise is not Christian.