"But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees with His reply, they met together to question Him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 'Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?'
Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.'” Matthew 22:34-40 NLT
When I meet with couples to help their marriages, I teach this concept; to really love your spouse you must first love God and yourself. This concept is not only for married persons, but everyone.
Jesus said the most important commandments were to love the Lord with your entire being, to love yourself and your neighbor. How can you truly love yourself and those around you if you haven't received and live in the love, forgiveness and grace that Jesus offers us? The love that we have to give without Jesus in our lives is conditional and shallow, compared to the great depth of love that God has for us.
Once we have received and lived in the love of God, we can then learn to love ourselves. You see, many of us have one of two problems. First, we have an unhealthy love for ourselves. We are self-centered, demanding and blind to our weaknesses. Or, we treat ourselves with hatred. We are self-condemning, critical, our worse enemy. We treat our bodies and minds with contempt through addictions, unhealthy habits and relationships. When we understand the love that Jesus has for us, we can work through our issues and learn to love ourselves in a healthy way.
So now that we love God and love ourselves, we can truly love those around us. The Bible says to love our neighbor. That really is everyone. But who are your closest neighbors? Are you loving them with the love of God? What are the obstacles to love?
To really love well, start by loving God.
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT