Love Your Neighbor as Who?

In case you’re new(er) here — WELCOME! Let me fill you in. We’ve been going back to the basics of redemption. I’ve been sharing misconceptions I’ve had about this journey with Christ. We’re trying to peel back layers, striving to get back down to the simple truth. It’s a combined effort and I would love it if you would voice your thoughts as well.

My goodness has God been revealing so much to me lately. Primarily about myself. Yet He’s asked me to share it with you. It’s almost laughable — these lessons I’m learning. For they’re ones I thought I had mastered ages ago.

Would you believe He’s using Bible verses I’ve had memorized for decades to do it? Take this one for example:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:30-31

You know that one, too, don’t you. Do you abide by them?

He brought these verses to mind a few months back. And when I would picture the words in my mind (I’m a visual learner), this is what a portion of it looked like:

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Yes, I’ll admit it. I was slightly offended at first. Was God asking me to love myself more? How selfish is that?!? Conceit is something I don’t want to mess around with. No. This was not on my to-do list any time soon…

I’m even more ashamed to admit how long it took me to get what He was really trying to show me. Thank You, Father, for patiently revealing it in different ways until I saw it clearly.

Friends, those two verses…cannot be separated. Look at the ending again:

There is no commandment greater than these.

It doesn’t say commandmentS — plural. And I checked. I’m not fluent, but it doesn’t look like the Greek was pluralized, either. I think I know why.

The greatest commandment still holds true: Loving God with our whole being. That’s our goal. But friends, we can’t do that unless we figure out the second part of the commandment: Loving our neighbor…which can’t be done correctly until we’ve learned to love ourself.

This whole love thing?
It all starts with us.
And I’m certain He says the same thing.

Oh how He loves us.

And how disrespectful am I to not love what He has hand crafted?
What He has designed with a specific goal in mind?
What He has thoughtfully and skillfully given to me?

I’m convinced there is no other way to achieve it than this: I need to see with His eyes in order to love myself the way I should love my neighbor.  I need to train my heart to look before my mind concludes what is worthy or unfit for grace.

Oh, Father, give me eyes of grace…for then I will see where grace brings me. Then I will see You laced throughout my intricacies. Then I will know what You have made is indeed good. And see why — because of You.

I get the difference now.
I see how I had misinterpreted the very word I live by: Love.

Friends, I don’t need to think I’m pretty great to love myself. I need to see how He makes me, or could make me, pretty great. And love that. And do the same for my neighbor.

For when I keep my eyes peeled. Focused on seeing Him in me, in you, in my neighbor I don’t at all understand, I’ll see love in ways I’d never imagined. I’ll see Him. And I’m certain I’ll want nothing more than to love Him right back. With my whole heart. All of my soul. And even my doubting mind down to my very last bit of strength.

Oh how He loves us!

And what’s not to love when His hand has been there first?

How about you, friend? Do you love yourself and love your neighbor the same way? What do these verses mean to you? I’d love to hear.

Not only does God require that we accept His inexplicable, embarrassing kind of love, but once we’ve accepted it, He expects us to behave the same way with others…Perhaps the simplest, though certainly not the easiest place to start is with ourselves…like it says: love your neighbor as yourself.
Brennan Manning,The Ragamuffin Gospel

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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26 thoughts on “Love Your Neighbor as Who?

  1. Oh wow. Look at what He’s teaching you. Look at how He’s brought the truth full circle and wrapped it warm around your shoulders. I just want to sit on the porch swing next to you, and breath this grace right in, laughing and crying (because I’m a crier, i know, i KNOW, )we have traveled parallel paths these days and I don’t yet believe I’ve fuly arrived but I am so blessed by your own revelations, your companionship along the way…. and that Manning quote at the end– seriously, Nikki, how have we been missing this? God is amazing, His truths are amazing, his grace to reveal them to us gently, consistantly, and with such tenderness–AMAZING. So glad you shared this with me. So, so glad. Love you, sister-friend.

    • He continues to knock my socks off, Kris. Every day. And He often uses you. Thank you, friend. Thank you. (I already sent you a note, but I had to say something here again) 🙂

  2. I love how you shared your heart, Nikki. Self-love is a tough thing to balance, but when we remember how He created us —
    – fearfully and wonderfully
    – in His image
    – for His purpose
    – at this time
    how can we not rejoice at the works of His hands, and that He would choose to use us, flaws and all! He is amazing and I’m humbled. And pressing on 🙂
    Thanks, Nikki. So glad we connected today!
    Hugs from VA,
    Susan

    • So true, Susan! I’ve known it for some time. I’ve just now begun to see the whys and the hows. and what Grace is truly capable of…

      So thrilled to have met you today, Susan! Thanks for dropping in and sharing with me! Hugs right back at you!

  3. Blessings- my daughter and I are memorizing this verse right now- I found you through Mary Beth’s link up at New Life Steward. Thank you for sharing- a good word and I love your enthusiasm in going deeper with God- so encouraging. God bless you.

    • Love that your daughter and you are memorizing this verse together! I remember memorizing verses with my dad growing up…what wonderful memories you are creating let alone a solid foundation for faith! Thank you….

  4. Beautiful Nikki! Thanks for sharing with us 🙂
    I was wondering if ultimately loving God and loving our neighbor are tied into forgiveness? If we believe we are truly forgiven and set free isn’t it easier to love and to be loved? You see people not so much with earthly eyes but you can look at people with what I like to call “Kingdom eyes.” Much easier to love when you focus on Jesus and accept the forgiveness only his blood can bring.

    • I’ve been pondering your thoughts here, Janet. Very wisdom packed! I think you’re on to something…with the whole forgiveness thing. Thank you! And I agree, to look with eyes of Christ. or “Kingdom eyes.” That is key. But harder to do than it sounds! We’ll get there, won’t we. With prayer and patience and sweat and tears…we’ll get there. together. Thank you for going on this journey with me, friend!

  5. This was the main phrase that popped out for me tonight, Nikki, when you said, “I need to train my heart to look before my mind concludes what is worthy or unfit for grace.” So true for me, and I can say that I see a difference beginning to be made in this one step. I’m a slow learner…I’m grateful for being led to you, for your words to help ease my learning…still after all these years…striving to put into life the lessons being taught so patiently over and again.

    • You always know how to encourage me, Donna. That one phrase you called out has been in my prayer journal for awhile now (and I doubt you’re a slower learner than I am! I am the epitome of stubborn…) I once asked God where I could sign up for Jesus goggles. For if only I could see people through Christ’s eyes…and then I realized we’ve been given all the tools necessary. we simply need to use them every day. So, here I go. one day at a time. I’m going to give it a try. Hugs to you, friend! Thank you for joining me on this journey.

  6. Thanks for the read. I had to hop over after your comment on my love series. I like the linear style of revealing your thoughts in this writing. How interesting to think that the hardest part of that verse might sometimes be the loving ourselves part–but if we love ourselves with the humility of appreciation for God’s creation (“You did a good job with me, God!”), then it isn’t vanity.
    herejessa.blogspot.com
    Jessa

  7. This is such a thought-provoking post and a challenging Scripture. God’s been using this verse lately to challenge me in the times in situations where I am not loving myself and others equally. By asking myself if I would do the same for/to others, it’s helping me to see where I need to see where I need to put others first and where I need to be kinder to myself.

    Here’s a link you might find interesting. It’s a youtube video of a prophetic word by Graham Cooke called “The Inheritance”. I’ll go through times where I listed to this over and over, especially when I’m living love-less. 🙂 :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgzXXKjaPZA

    • Thank you so much, Andrea, for stopping by and sharing your heart with me. That Youtube video was wonderful — thank you! well worth my time…

      I’m so thrilled we met each other this week and were able to share our hearts. loved your thoughts on being kinder to yourself…thank you so much!

  8. These lessons, mastered long ago? Will I ever get any of them *mastered* while still in this earth-life? I doubt it! But He does keep giving me ouchy lessons. This one about loving my neighbor as myself seems to be the ouch-of-the-week!
    I guess there are different *kinds* of self-love. The one I wrote about in my post about pride focuses on the self as the supposed maker and developer of all good things in “me.” But your perspective, seeing yourself as an amazing creation of *God* shifts the focus to Him, and rightfully gives Him the credit for all that’s good in “me.” Then seeing my neighbor also as just such an amazing creation follows.
    The other kind of love, and self-love, is about the “right” to good and pleasant things. It’s tested by challenges like, “Sell all you have and give to the poor, and come follow me.” The thought of giving away *all* our possessions for others’ benefit usually reveals how much we really do, automatically, love ourselves and struggle with loving everybody else as much. It may even be such a self-love that desires us to “have” abilities, beauties, and achievements others have “unfairly” received, when we haven’t. Sticky, sticky lesson! Thanks for this fresh perspective on it!

    • Sticky lesson indeed, Sylvia! (and when I said I thought I had mastered this lesson, I was admitting how clueless I’ve been!) You have shed new light for me to ponder, too. So thankful you took the time to do that and encourage my heart to seek further. deeper. Your post was brilliant!

      Love your thoughts on the “right”…there is a big difference in a right to something vs a privilege. and that is a tough lesson to learn! one I strive every day to present properly to my child…one I need to look at daily myself…

      So glad we could share with each other this week. Thank you so much!

  9. It’s so easy just to ignore our neighbor, but when we see with the eyes of grace, when we think with thoughts of love and grace to ignore becomes more and more difficult, Beautiful thoughts in this post. To God be the glory.
    Joy

    • So very true, Joy, as always! Love your thoughts here. would be a perfect segway into building upon this post 😉

      To God be the glory, indeed. even with loving myself. To God be the glory…

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