READ : Matthew 22:34-40
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (v. 39)
A husband surprises his wife with a gift – an expensive bracelet. The wife thanks him for it, but inwardly she feels undeserving of something so special. A week later she secretly returns the bracelet. A man is nominated to a leadership position in his church. Although well-qualified, he declines the job. Why? His grown daughter, who lives in a faraway city, does not attend church. He feels he failed as a parent and is thus unworthy to serve.
The wife, the father – what do they have in common? They are being too hard on themselves. They are being unkind to themselves in ways they would never be unkind to others. They don’t love themselves.
It is hard to love yourself. I’m not talking about hedonism or crass selfishness. I’m talking about the healthy self-esteem that comes from viewing yourself as a child of God, loved and forgiven. To love yourself is thought to be selfish. But Jesus said that our ability to love God and others hinges on whether we are able to love ourselves. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If you find it difficult to love others, if you are always angry, unkind, and unforgiving toward others, it is a sign that you don’t love yourself. Come on, lighten up. If God loves you, you can love you.
Thanks, Lord, for the love that frees us from our hang-ups.