Jesus summed up the first half of the bible with two commandments: Love God; Love people. He said that everything that is written in those 39 books are summed up in those two commandments. Today I want us to focus on the second commandment – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39)
We tend to say the above verse far too fast that we miss what it is actually saying. Look closely at those two words at the end of the verse: “as yourself.” It’s telling you “how” to love people. You love people by first loving yourself. If you don’t love yourself what makes you think you can love anyone? You cannot give what you do not have.
Now I’m not talking about pride, ego and puffing up self here. No. But I’m talking about knowing your true identity. Knowing who you really are in Christ. Listen, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2Cor. 5:17) New creation? All things have become new? Yes, the verse is talking about the new you in Christ. Do you love the new you that God has created in Christ? This is what the bible says about the new you – You are a precious son and daughter of God (Rom. 8:16-17), the very apple of His eye (Zech. 2:8), God is for you and not against you (Rom. 8:31), He loves you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3), has promised to never leave nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5), and will therefore be with you until the very end of the world (Matt. 28:20) That is how much God loves the new you. Do you?
“But I don’t feel like that pastor.” But who’s talking about feelings? Let your heart believe first then your feelings will catch up later. What you believe, you will eventually feel. When you truly believe, truly are convinced about who you really are in Christ, loving yourself will become as natural as breathing. Sooner or later you will notice that you no longer look for people’s approval, opinion or praises to prop you up. Those competitive thoughts, jealousy, envy, and wishing to be somebody else are fading and now confidence is back, you’re loving life, loving your(new)self, just as God intended you to be. (See John 10:10b)
Now you know what true love is, go ahead and fulfill the fourth purpose of your life – love others as you love yourself!