Yep, I mean it. God doesn’t want you to love your neighbor as yourself.
Now, before you run off and start pulling your sister’s hair, stealing your friend’s clothes or yelling at your parents, consider the fact that Jesus wants you to do so much more.
In Mark 12:29-31, a rich, young man approached Jesus and asked Him what was God’s most important commandment. Jesus answered him straight from the Ten Commandments:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.’”
It’s true, God did say that. But the rules changed when Jesus came to earth to pay for our sins by His death and resurrection.
In fact, later in Jesus’ ministry, only days before He went to the cross, He sat in an upstairs room for one last special meal with His disciples. There, He shared His heart. He told them that He had a new commandment for them.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Under the old commandment, in order to love your neighbor properly, you had to really love yourself. You’ve probably even heard someone say, “You can’t love others until you love yourself.”
There are many times in our lives when we don’t really love ourselves. We can be upset with ourselves for a little while, or perhaps even struggle with depression. Sometimes, we even hate ourselves. When that happens, how are we supposed to obey God and love others?
This is where it gets really good! In the new commandment Jesus gave us, we are told to love others as God loves us. That sounds even harder! But the truth is, in order to love this way we have to learn, understand and believe how much God loves US!
The next time someone tells you, “You have to love yourself before you can love others,” tell them, “No, in order to love myself or others, I have to know how much God loves me!”
The way Jesus wants us to love forces us to stop looking at ourselves and instead to look at Him. As we receive His love for us, then we are able to be obedient and love others. At the same time, we will find peace and joy in who we are because we know how much God loves us!
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