And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments [is], Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment. And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. –Mark 12:28-31 (emphasis mine)
When I think of these verses I usually come at them from the thought of how we are to love God. And we should love God with all of our being. This impacts all areas of our lives including our relationships because as we grow closer to God we will naturally grow closer to each other.
But there came a couple of troubling thoughts as considered the second part of the commandment:
If I loved my neighbor as myself, how would he feel?
Is the problem with my relationships with friends, family, neighbors is that I am loving them as myself?
I am not just talking about money. In the parable of the Good Samaritan it cost in time and effort so it is not just about the Benjamin’s as the saying goes.
If I spoke to my neighbor as I speak to myself would he feel loved? I don’t know about you but I can be tough on myself and will talk myself down if feel I fell short of my standards.
If I forgave my neighbor as I forgive myself, how would he feel? If I feel spoke out of turn or tersely to someone I care about (even someone I don’t know) I can feel guilty about it for weeks even after I repent to God and speak with the person. (nine times out of ten they did not even notice or it did not appear that way to them) but when someone is that way to me it rolls off like water off a duck’s back.
This is important and I struggled with this for over a week so here is the application:
If I cannot receive love from God or others, how can I show it? Fact is I cannot. How can I forgive others if I am not able to receive it myself? Again I cannot. These flow out from what is within a man as Jesus said:
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are [the things] which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. –Matthew 15:18-20
So what goes out shows what is within, then if we have that love, we have experienced that love we can show it and likewise if we really have been forgiven then that will come out too. And I also learned it is ok to forgive myself. After all God loved me enough to forgive me and He knows a lot better than I do.
Just something to think about.