36 [Jesus was asked,] “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.
The problem with Jesus’ instruction to love your neighbor as yourself is that most of us do a lousy job of loving ourselves.
When you begin with a flawed understanding of how to love and care for yourself, of course you’re going to have a harder time loving others.
But Jesus never said, “love others instead of yourself,” he said, “love others as yourself.”
So, for today: monitor your self-talk. Do you speak kindly to yourself, or harshly? Are you as understanding with yourself as you would be with others? Do you have a much harder time forgiving your own mistakes than those of the people around you?
Today, remember that you’re not called to love others instead of yourself, but as yourself.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
If lately you’ve found yourself irritable or short-tempered with people, take a step back to consider the questions above. It may be that before you can show kindness to others, you need to show a little kindness to yourself. Acknowledge God’s great love for you. Remember this verse today, from Isaiah 43:4: “Because you are precious in my eyes, you are honored, and I love you.” Write it down and repeat it to yourself often today.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for loving me so much. Help me to know and feel your love and care in the very core of my being, until I can truly love my neighbor as myself. Today, let me begin by loving myself as you have loved me. Amen.