“Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?
“Jesus declared, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:36-40).
Think about that; if we wholly love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, we are unlikely to murder, steal, covet, lie, disrespect our parents, take the Lord’s name in vain, have idols, defile the Sabbath or commit adultery! We talk about the first half of this verse a lot, but what about the second half?
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Did you know this phrase is repeated nine times in eight books of the Bible? Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31,33; Luke 10: 27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14 and James 2:8. Many would say loving your neighbor is simply the Golden Rule; Do unto others as we would want others to do unto you. I would agree, but I also think there’s merit in being able to demonstrate our love to others because we’ve loved and cared for ourselves. So how do we do that?
Do we love ourselves? Do we treat ourselves as though we love ourselves? If we don’t love and care for ourselves, we can’t love our neighbors well.
How do we operationalize loving ourselves?
How often do you do something for yourself that you enjoy?
We need to allow ourselves time to enjoy the things we enjoy! Whether that’s going fishing, doing a puzzle, painting a picture, or playing a game of golf, we need to have enough free time to enjoy the things we enjoy.
Do you allow yourself time for silence and solitude?
Most of us fill our lives with noise. The TV is always on, or music and podcasts fill the room. Make time to listen to the quiet. To know yourself, you need to spend some time in silence. Turn your phone and computer off and be by yourself. Alone, in silence, undistracted. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Can you say NO and set boundaries?
Clichés become clichés because they have an element of truth to them. Here’s one: If you need to get something done, ask the busiest person you know. Can you distinguish between what is good, better and best? We can’t do everything. We have limited time, and if you can’t say no, then you’ll continue to run the gerbil wheel until you’re exhausted. Set boundaries on your time; say yes to the best and no to the rest.
Do you provide any space for exercise?
Allow yourself 30 minutes at least three times a week doing some physical activity. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Spending time training, taking care of your body isn’t a waste of time. It’s an investment into yourself, so you can live more fully for Him.
Do you eat well?
Is your life so full of activity that you have to drive the fast-food line for many of your meals? Slow down, make eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet a priority. “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). When you bring God into your healthy eating, it changes everything. Striving to honor Him in your food and drink choices will bring not only a heart change, but it will also change your selections.
Do you prioritize time for sleep?
Give yourself enough time to sleep, so you feel rejuvenated and refreshed. The best practice is to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day.
Do you make time for Jesus?
We were made in His image, and our image should be a reflection of Him. If we’re His image-bearer, then we have to be in His presence. Jesus wants to be with us because He loves us. As humans, we grow to love others by being with them. We may know about people; we may admire them, we may want to emulate them, but that doesn’t mean we love them. Love grows through being with them. We become emotionally attached to the people we love. We miss them when we don’t share life with them. Make time to be with Jesus every day.
Am I able to forgive myself?
If you continue to punish yourself for past mistakes and see yourself as unworthy, then go to God and obey 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Never forget that Jesus died on the cross for your sins. He saw you as worthy enough for Him to die on your behalf. Don’t wallow in your mistakes. Forgive yourself and move on.
Treat yourself as someone worthy of having your physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs met so you can fulfill the commandment of loving your neighbors as you love yourself.
Lisa May is Executive Director of Live the Life South Florida. She can be reached at [email protected] or by mail at 5110 N. Federal Hwy. Suite 102, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308