So, I was reading my Bible one day and a particular piece of a verse stuck out to me. I mean, it really hit me.
Let me show you what I found.
Did you catch it? Don't see what I mean? Look a little closer...
What about now? Still no?? Let me help you out.
Now that's all blurry and out of focus, do you see it?
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Now, usually when I hear this verse, it's from the angle of thinking of others before you think of yourself and putting others' needs before your own. And Lord knows we need that message, especially in these times.
But I noticed something. Love your neighbor. Like you love yourself. Love your SELF.
Wait, was Jesus saying we should love ourselves? That can't be right! What about John 13:34? "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."
Or Philippians 2:3 and 4. That's a good one! "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind, let EACH ESTEEM OTHER BETTER THAN THEMSELVES. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."
How could I possibly be implying that Jesus is telling us to love ourselves?
Because it says so. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Why did this grab me? Because I've always had trouble loving myself. I've always compared myself to others and found myself lacking. This one has the perfect hair. That one has a sunny disposition. The other one is flat-out beautiful. And still another is quick to learn.
I always fell short. I had trouble loving myself, or even liking myself.
But this verse made me stop and think. The Lord WANTS me to like myself, to even love myself. He made me on purpose. He wanted me here. So, He must have loved me. And if I'm worth His love, isn't that enough?
Here's another thought. If Jesus wants me to love my neighbors like I love myself, how am I really going to know how to love my neighbors if I don't even know how to love myself? (Make sense?)
We all have shortcomings. We all have things we don't like about ourselves. But let's go back to John 13:34. "...as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." Jesus loves us the way we are. And He wants us to love others the way He loves us. We love, because we're loved. (Love your neighbor as yourself.)
But what about verses like that one in Philippians? My uneducated answer is this: Be humble, of course. Put others first, yes. Think of others, sure. But there's nothing in there that tells us to dislike ourselves.
I don't claim to be a Bible scholar and I'm sure some people smarter than me could explain how I'm taking these verses out of context. Maybe I am, a bit. But it still felt like an eye opener to me. He wants me to love myself so that I can love others. And He wants me to love others the way He loves me.
That's a lot of love.
Maybe you have trouble liking yourself, as well. If so, I hope you can see this verse a little differently, like I did. I hope you can learn to love yourself the way Jesus loves you.
May we all experience His love for ourselves and our neighbors.
In His grip!