I’ve been intentionally following Jesus for more than half of my life now, but I still haven’t managed to nail down one of His two most important commandments.
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:39)
The aim and joy of my life is to honor the first commandment: to love God with all of my heart, soul, and mind. Do I love Him perfectly? Not by far, but the deepest desire of my heart is to love Him. So you would think that one would naturally flow from the other, right? That if I love God, I should love people. But I don’t. I continually (read, daily) fall short of loving His people. Where is the disconnect?
I wonder if the answer is found in two little words tacked onto the end of that second commandment: as yourself. We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Now before I lose you to excessive eye-rolling, hear me out. This isn’t some fluffly, middle school self-esteem message. These are the words of Jesus we’re talking about. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So the implications of self-rejection are massive. We will be unable to love our neighbors if we do not love and accept ourselves.
Did you get that? We can only love others to extent that we love ourselves. No matter how fervently I love the Lord, if I do not receive His love for me, soak in it, believe it, and live into my identity as His Beloved daughter, I will never see the other with all of his or her God-given dignity and glory.
It is imperative that we understand and claim our identity as beloved Daughters of God. This is central to the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ. He ransomed us from sin and death to establish us as adopted Daughters of God, heirs to the Kingdom no less.
But most of us don’t live that way. I certainly don’t. We get through the day, seldom living into our giftedness or precious personhood.
Listen to me now: You are a gift. Who you are is a masterpiece. You are more loved than you could ever conceive of, earn, or deserve. And all of this, the loving God and the loving people part, only flows from this pivotal truth: you are loved.
Look in the mirror. Repeat: I am loved. I am God's daughter. I am beloved.
Beth Davis is the Director of Ministry Advancement for Blessed is She. She served as a youth minister for eleven years. She has a heart for teaching women about developing an intimate relationship with Jesus and speaking hope to weary souls. You can find out more about her here.