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The perfect definition of love is shared here in the Bible, the Holy Book filled with God’s great love for us, is inspiring and humbling. How should we live? Clearly we are all called to love.
While Jesus was being tested by the Pharisees, they asked him, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36). I imagine, without skipping a beat, Jesus gave them an answer they couldn’t forget. “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and 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 22:37-40).
Jesus knew that loving the Lord with all of our hearts, soul, and mind would result in the highest level of life filled with love. This greatest commandment is imperative to living for Christ and for Christ to shine through us. To love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and mind is to love Him with every last molecule in our bodies. Everything we do, say, and think about would be filtered through the love we have for our Father and to do His good will. While this first command makes perfect sense to our calling, the second command may be a little harder for some of us to understand or put into practice.
Is it easy for you to understand what loving yourself means? Loving yourself, giving grace, forgiveness, treating your body kindly, and resting are just a few ways to love ourselves. Loving ourselves may come naturally for some but loving someone else the same way may be more difficult. In a world where hurt and pain exists at every turn and words can be carelessly thrown around, the need for loving our neighbor is extremely high. We don’t always know one another’s stories or motives but we can’t let the shields that we may have built up keep us from getting close to our neighbor and staying open to loving everyone. How can we love? Offering peace, giving grace, caring for others’ needs, and forgiving each other. The need for love is now.
On the other hand, it may be easier for you to extend love to your neighbor more than it is to love yourself. Maybe you take the second shift in your mind and priorities because you love others and value their happiness more. Your heart hurts for the lost, the broken, the forgotten. You have a family and the desires and needs for them go first. While this is a God-honoring way to live, you may be so focused on others that you forget what loving yourself looks like. Do you see yourself as worthy of love? It's time to understand that loving yourself is imperative to be a vessel of God's love to others.
Did God know that we would have a hard time with loving both ourselves and others? I honestly think so. That is why it is so important for us to remember that loving our neighbors and ourselves are mutually exclusive and monumentally important to do. "Love your neighbor as yourself." What would a world look like if we could all live this out every day?
Do you need God's help to love Him better? Maybe you need to take better care of yourself so that you can love others more. Or, maybe you need help with tearing down walls of unforgiveness, bitterness, or jealousy that are keeping you from loving those that God has in your life? Let’s pray this together:
Thank you for your great love for us. You sent your only Son to live with us and show us how to love. He gave His life for us and resurrected on that third day so that we could also be with you in eternity!
Lord, to feel just an inch of the radiance of your love and the glow from your excellence will be more than we can imagine. Knowing your love for us is humbling too.
We are imperfect humans moving around on this Earth day to day attempting to live lives that are worthy of the calling you have on us. We need your guidance and direction.
Father, for the woman that needs to feel your love today, I pray that you give her eyes to see and ears to hear your love for her. You know her name, her past, her triumphs, and her wounds. Let her know it is never too late to call on you, ask for your forgiveness, give her life to your service, rebuke the sin that is entangling her, and live free as a Child of God. For those alone or feeling unloved, let their love for you be so fierce that it radiates back to them. Let them live each day forward knowing you love them more than they can imagine and that they are not alone.
Father, for the woman that finds it easier to love herself than others, give her eyes to see how special all of your children are. Give her opportunities to sit down with those that don’t look or think like her so that she can learn what it really means to love her neighbor. Help her to be kind, encouraging, forgiving, loving to those that may never realize her impact, and move forward with the ability to treat others with love no matter what. Give her the grace and strength to move from day to day with an outpouring of love for her neighbor.
Father, for the woman that finds it easier to love others more than herself, give her the gift of self-love and forgiveness. Hold her and embrace her. Give her permission to take care of herself, to enjoy the things that make her heart sing, and give her the time it takes to do those things. You love her servant heart, Lord, please let her feel the peace that your love wants to give her in these busy days we all live in.
Thank you Father that no matter where our hearts are you are always reaching out to love us unconditionally! You are the ultimate example of love and we are so grateful for that!
In Jesus’ Holy name we pray,
This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.
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Mandy Smith is a joyful 30-something single living in GA. She is a full-time Speech-Language Pathologist. Her loves include Jesus, her family and friends, creativity, playing guitar and singing, coffee, laughing, and of course, writing! You can read more of her writing on her website www.myjoyousheart.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.