A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Matthew 22:39 NLT
We live in a world of self-help, self-esteem, and pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. The less I like myself, the less I love myself, the less I feel like it makes sense to love my neighbors as I love myself. Yet, that is the command Jesus gives us in Matthew.
I think this is when we need to consider love as an action and not a feeling. We may not love ourselves but we feed our physical bodies, we put a coat on when it’s cold, we wear shoes to protect our feet. Our actions toward ourselves take care of the most basic of needs. In our age of self-care talks, sometimes we discount the things we automatically do for ourselves.
Is it this basic set of actions that Jesus was calling us to? Feed your neighbor? Clothe your neighbor? Take shoes to your neighbor? Those actions often convey love and become a lifeline for someone who is hurting or alone.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
John 13:34 NLT
Does this verse contradict the other? Love others as Jesus has loved us? Jesus’ love is sacrificial – to the point of death on a cross to save us from our sins.
It turns out that, no, this verse doesn’t contradict the other. In fact, they compliment each other. Give your neighbor food, a cloak, shoes. Give your neighbor your life.
For whoever wants to save his life will love it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it.
Luke 9:24 NLT
Maybe this focus on self is distracting our eyes and our hearts from Jesus. I believe it’s true, you can’t give from an empty cup. But I don’t believe we can fill our own cup. Living water comes from Jesus alone.
How can you focus on others today? Take it one day at a time. Pray and ask Jesus to reveal who you need to love and serve, and how He is calling you to do that. Go to Jesus for the water your spirit needs. Let Him overflow from you to those around you.
Jesus calls us to be others oriented. How will you respond to His call?
Until next time,