How can we love our neighbor when we don't even love ourselves?
Updated: Jan 21, 2019
Let's take a walk around the block shall we?
Let's identify our neighbors - so we know who to love.
Houses lining the street are occupied by our neighbors. These are the 'official neighbors', those folks who live in our general vicinity.
We should love our neighbors as ourselves.
How are we doing?
Picking apart that statement it says, I should love my neighbor, know who my neighbor is in the first place, and love them as much as we love ourselves. Let's clarify:
What is love
What is self love?
Who is my neighbor really?
We begin by exploring the meaning of love. What is love? A super simple definition is: an intense feeling of deep affection. a person or thing that one loves, feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).Wikipedia
Using this most basic definition of love we might not love anyone in our neighborhood at all. Afterall we don't get to pick our neighbors. Sorta like parents, you don't get to choose your parents. You accept the cards (parents) you were dealt. Your neighbor might be lovable or not so lovable. They might even be terrorists in disguise. Who knows and does it even matter? Our neighbor is whatever our neighbor is we cannot dictate that.
There is another kind of love
Supernatural love that emanates from God and is God. A love without conditions. A sacrificial love that gives expecting nothing in return. A love that turns the other cheek and lays down their own life for the life of another. Supernatural, unconditional, sacrificial love bestows life, forgiveness, wholeness, and super abundant power on the other, our neighbor.
What is self love? I didn't get this from Wikipedia or another source. This is my understanding. I believe self love is love and appreciation for the God in us. It is acknowledging the beauty and perfection of God's creation - you, me. It is unity with the God who is love. Self love lifts up, builds up and cheers up - self. All of our feelings, self talk and imaginations flow from hearts and minds empowered by the author of love.
Who is my neighbor? Haven't we covered that already? We covered the obvious geographical facts. But our self love barometer will either broaden the 'hood' or shrink even the most basic definition of neighbor to accommodate our perceived capacity to love.
My neighbor might be the stranger I meet in the park or the young man who helps me with my groceries at the local store. It seems only right to me that this kind of neighbor is inclusive of all men everywhere and not just the guy next door. My capacity to love them determines my neighborhood scope.
Here's the test: How much do you love yourself?
Without self love our tank is empty, dry, filled with bitterness, hiding from even the exposure to love. We simply have nothing to give a neighbor. Supernatural love eminates from a supernatural source. Our love for self manifests outwardly toward others. Our unity with God, our appreciation of His creation manifests as unity with others, appreciating our similarities, differences and uniqueness. Sacrificial love covers improprieties, it never boosts, it lifts up others and provides for our neighbors needs. Sacrificial love does not defend itself but knows their value and worth needs no defense. Sacrificial love forgives and releases all debts.
How do we love our neighbor as ourselves? We must first love ourselves. Not so long ago, I couldn't even repeat the words, I love me. I was paralyzed by fear of an angry God. But then I began to examine the evidence and HIS LOVE was without any strings. Then I began to understand I was not separated from love, my divine source of love was ALWAYS with me, even in me, I just didn't know it. Just as God is love so am I. I come from Divine love, how can I be less? Only in my mind can I perceive myself to be lacking anything. These days I spend my quality time renewing my mind in the truth beginning with who I am. I can love my neighbor, near or far, kind or cruel, believer in God or unbeliever. I not only can love them I have burning desire to see their goodness no matter the situation, actually in spite of all circumstances, to see what God sees. And my capacity for love is growing, I draw from an infinite source and I know it. Remember difficult relationships or circumstances are merely opportunities to SEE IN THE SPIRIT that which God's love is gazing upon and agree with God.
I am my brothers keeper and I am loving my neighbor as myself.
Pearl of Wisdom - Identify 'your' neighbors - ESPECIALLY the nasty, mean ones.
It is self love that we give away. Do you love yourself? Ask the God of the universe to help you love yourself so you will have love to give your neighbor.
Then from your heart launch a love campaign. (Notes in the mail, neighborly visits, active listening, encouraging their hearts and being friendly)