Faith Identity Relationships

Self Care-The Secret to Loving Others Well

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40

Talk about the shortest summary of an entire book in history! These two tenants are what make up the core of Christianity. When we tell people what Jesus is all about we usually start with these two statements: Love God and love others. But I feel that we sometimes miss parts of that teaching when we simplify it too much. I want to look at the second part and talk about why it is so important to us as men, especially in today’s society.

Loving Yourself

“Love others” is not the full meaning that Jesus was implying. He was actually quoting from Leviticus 19:18 – Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. Now when we read that, we usually think “Okay, yeah, be nice to others. Got it.” But look again at the second part of that verse – we are called to love your neighbor as YOURSELF. And when we look at that we might think “Okay, so I need to be REALLY nice to others.” And I think that is a good thought, but I want to take time and challenge you to look at how you love yourself.

God’s Standards or Mine?

I think most men these days grow up with society yelling in their faces what is expected of them. Be successful, make something of yourself, work harder than anyone else, achieve, win, be someone. And that causes us to put a very high standard on ourselves. Now standards are good, high standards are essential in our life; but, they must be the standards that God places upon us. Because those standards are set from the potential that God sees us as. When we put high standards upon ourselves, we will fail because they will either not be achievable or not be sustainable through our own strength. And when we fail, I believe that most of us are our own worst critic; I know I am!

The Bane of Self-Condemnation

For example, the other night I ran to the store to get some steak and chicken to grill for dinner. The poultry section was pretty picked through and so they didn’t have any chicken breasts. But I found chicken breast tenders. “Hmmm, should work,” I thought. Well, when I got home my wife informed me that they were completely different and might not grill up well. And that is when my self-condemnation hit. “Idiot, you ruined dinner. You should have known better. How could you mess up something SO simple? Everything is ruined now. How can you fix this; you can’t fix this. You disappointed everyone.” Now if I were to love someone as myself in that moment, I don’t think speaking those words to them would show a very good reflection of God’s love.

My wife was very quick to point out that it would work out fine, we would just need to keep an eye on them to make sure they didn’t burn as they were so small. A simple solution to a very small problem, but you wouldn’t know it was a small problem by my inner thoughts. And we do this to ourselves all the time!

Extending Grace to Ourselves

We can be quick to forgive others and even make excuses for their faults, but when it comes to ourselves we will berate and belittle and beat ourselves down until everyone sees us for who we really are. And I want you to know, brother, that all those worthless thoughts are whisperings straight from the enemy. You see, Satan knows that if he can keep us hating ourselves then we cannot love others with God’s fullness. You cannot give what you do not have. And if we do not allow grace to cover us for our little goof ups, then we will never be able to give and show God’s grace to others. We will not be able to walk out what Jesus calls the second greatest commandment.

Remember, the enemy will always speak death over us and remind us of our human failure. God speaks a different truth over us though: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17. That “new” is Christ living in us, and I would not use any of the words that I thought about myself, to describe Jesus.

Put into Practice:

1. Take some time this week and think about areas in your life where your expectations of yourself are too high and your thoughts about yourself are too low. 

2. Now take those and give them to God. Ask Him what expectations He has for you in those areas, and what His thoughts about your worth are. 

I can guarantee that at least one of those categories will be vastly different than our normal thinking. 

3. And then invite the Holy Spirit to move in your heart and help mold your mind to the standard and worth that God puts upon you.

Your Heavenly Father loves you dearly. He knows that you take a lot of stress and pressure upon yourself to live up to the man-made standards of life. 

A. He wants to break those down. 

B. He wants to show you how to live in His grace and to view yourself through His eyes. 

When we do those two things, then we will be able to truly love others as ourselves. 

Warrior On!

Casey Perkins

Casey Perkins has been in the church his whole life. However, that did not prevent him from going down a path of perversion, adultery, self-indulgence, and isolation. Thankfully, like all prodigal sons, the Lord chased after Casey even when he was a long way off and welcomed him back with open arms and unconditional love. Casey's primary purpose now is to live out the mantle that God has placed on him and lead other men into the grace and calling that the Heavenly Father has given us all.

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