One of the hardest lessons I continue to learn is that love of God has to be first before I can then love myself, and after those two daunting tasks are in progress, then I can start to love my neighbor. This is so difficult for me because I was not taught to love God as a child, nor was I really taught a healthy way to love myself or other people. For the longest time, I found my worth in others and felt that without their approval and love, my life was not worth anything. It has been a long road for me, through Christian counseling and Celebrate Recovery, to learn how to love God, myself, and then others.
Since I didn’t get to know God until several years ago, this principle has been tough to wrap my head around. Then I read 1 John 4:19, which says that because God loved us first, we can love everyone else. See, he chose to forgive us and sent his Son while we were still sinners. He didn’t wait for us to clean up our act; he knew we couldn’t! Because of that sacrificial act of love, we should love everyone in the same way. Even the ones we don’t like, or the ones who hate us.
I recently moved, and I have had a really hard time with the moving company that I hired. I have been very frustrated and overwhelmed. When the woman on the phone told me my stuff would not be delivered when they said it would (and she wasn’t very nice about it), I got very angry and was not nice to her either. This is the way of the world, right? I don’t have to take that stuff from anyone! You can’t talk to me like that! Except Jesus says if we are slapped, we are to present the other cheek to be slapped as well. If we are forced to carry a load for a mile, we should offer to carry it for two miles. Ugh. Maybe this woman did not deserve an apology, and maybe I did not deserve to be talked to in such a manner; but because I follow Jesus, I called her back and apologized. Not for her sake, but for God’s. Because of what God did for me, I must do the same for everyone else.
Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do. I mean, this woman was kind of a jerk; and by the way, I didn’t call her RIGHT back. However, I have had some real hurt in life, some people who have caused me a lot of pain. To try to love them like I love myself is not possible through my own strength. In my own heart I cannot accomplish this. But through Christ, I can. Because Christ died for me, I can forgive them and learn to love them as a child of God, just like me. Imperfect, full of mistakes, and prideful, yet God loves me, and them, anyway.
With that mercy and grace in mind, I can find a way to love what God sees in them, even if I cannot see it through my eyes. I can love that God loves them, even when it’s hard or even impossible for me to do the same. After all, I’m not God, and guess what? He knows.
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
How well do think you love yourself? Do you feel like you love God first? Have you ever thought about your neighbor as being someone who hates you?
What does it look like for you to love someone you don’t like or who doesn’t like you? How can you try to see them through God’s eyes?
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us your mercy and grace through your Son. Thank you for loving us while we were still so undeserving and that you continue to love us through all of our mistakes. Help us to remember to love you first, that all other love springs from that. Help us to extend that same love to all of your children, no matter what they have done, where they come from, or what they believe, because you love all of us. Amen.
This post was written by Kelda Strasbourg, Kelda is a grateful member of the LivingItOut writing team. She has a love for Jesus and the desire to help others find that same love. She has her own business and a border collie named Emily.
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