“Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall 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, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”’ -Mark 12: 29-31
Jesus is very explicit throughout the Gospels about the fact that we should love our neighbor. He lives it out, he makes the love he speaks about active and real. He gives examples through his teachings and through his actions. Loving others is crucial to following Christ. Throughout the week so far, we have looked at how Jesus invites us to love our neighbors, how we can and should love others even when it is hard, and how love is active and causes us to get to work at times.
There is another aspect of love that Jesus brings up, and one that is really important to our overall health and well-being. This is that we are to show love to ourselves. I don’t know about you, but this one can come as a struggle to me. Shouldn’t I always love other people? I should give everything that I have all the time, right?
Well, Jesus seems to make a distinct claim about this in Mark. He says that the two greatest commandments are that you should love God with all your heart and that you should love your neighbor as yourself. This account from the book of Mark does not say that you should love your neighbor AND yourself, it says that you should love your neighbor AS yourself.
So, friends, how are we showing love to ourselves when it takes work? How are we showing love to ourselves when it is really hard? How are we giving ourselves grace and space in a world that can just feel like too much? How are we seeing need within ourselves and acknowledging these needs in love and kindness?
It is indeed in this kind of practice that we can truly and fully love our neighbor. This is not selfish, this is self-care. You are loved. You are worthy of love. You are enough. You are worthy to give love.
Tomorrow: Showing Love by Setting Boundaries