“Love your Neighbor, as Yourself”
Have you ever wondered sometimes how some people you meet just seem to always have a sunny disposition? They go about their day, usually with a smile, or a contented look on their face, greeting others with a joyful “Hello!”. Those kind of people used to annoy me, that is til I became one of them. Do I always greet everyone with a smile, or pleasant word? I try, but there are times even my rose-colored classes get filtered by life. Normally its the little things that may bring my happiness-meter down a notch or two. But here is thing, rarely is it something that has occurred, but more my reaction to it. Its those little voices of self-doubt, fear, and anxiety, that can cause my day to begin a downward spiral.
But we have someone who understands this, and gives us advice and commandments, which enable us to lead joyful, fulfilling lives. In Leviticus 19:1-2, God begins by telling Moses that we are all holy:
“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”
In Leviticus 19:9-18, He further goes on to explain a set of rules, or commandments, which should be used as a guide to achieve this holy status.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God. You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD. You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD. You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD. You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
“but you shall love your neighbor as yourself”
I love that last part. Why, you ask? Of course we all know that we must love our neighbor, but what about loving ourselves? God commands us to love our neighbor, as WE love OURSELVES! We are commanded to show just as much love to our own self, as to our neighbor. But so many of us don’t, for many, many reasons. There are as many reasons we give ourselves, as to why we dislike the person we are, as there are people on the planet. But if you are to call yourself a child of God, then you must put those fears and self-doubts aside, and embrace the awesome person God sees in you. You will find yourself feeling lighter, your path more clear, and may even find yourself smiling more. You may be one of those people who seems to be always content, at peace with themselves and their world. Remember, you are special, because God made you holy, and He commands you to love everyone, including yourself.
I can hear you saying, “but life isn’t all happy and joyful, and we can’t all go around wearing rose-colored glasses 24/7.” This is true, but God has a plan for that too. He is not saying it will be easy, or there won’t be adversity. But He does lay down a set of guidelines for dealing with difficult people or situations. In Matthew 5:38-48, God presents us with a set of simple guidelines to follow, then reminds us that He has our back, keeping watch over all.
“”You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well;
and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
You ever hear that trite saying, “You are perfect just the way you are”? Well you really are; we all are! Learning to love yourself is not easy, and sometimes loving our neighbor (or enemy) is a greater challenge. But God commands you and I, to love everyone, neighbor, friend, enemy, AND ourselves. You really are great just as you are, so cut yourself a break. Maybe then you can be one of those people who go around with a contented smile on their face and a song in their heart.
“Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” 1 John 4:7