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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Jesus’ great commandment must start with love of self

Jesus’ great commandment must start with love of self

When Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He replied, “You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:36-39)

Jesus then said that everything hinged on these two commandments. What he did was take two commandments from two different books of the Bible and put them together. Notice there are three elements presented here: Love of God, neighbor and self.

In our religious practices we often examine ourselves in relation to God and neighbor to see if we have the proper love. However, the commandment says to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus was telling us that we should have the same type of love for our neighbor as we have for ourselves. So the question is: do we really love ourselves?

The following exercise called, “Affirmations for Building Self Esteem,” can be used as an examination of conscience to see how much we love ourselves.

I am a valuable and important person, and I am worthy of the respect of others. I am optimistic about life; I look forward to and enjoy new challenges in my growth. I am my own expert, and I allow others the same privilege. I express my ideas easily, and I know others respect my point of view. I am aware of my value system and confident of the decisions I make based on my current mindfulness.

I have positive expectancy of reaching my goals, and I bounce back quickly from temporary setbacks. I have pride in my past performance and positive future expectations. I accept compliments easily and share my successes with others who have contributed to them.

I feel warm and loving toward myself, for I am a unique and precious being, ever doing the best I can, ever growing in wisdom and love.

I am actively in charge of my life and direct it in constructive channels. My primary responsibility is for my own growth and well-being (the better I feel about myself, the more willing and able I am to help others).

I am my own person (and the negative opinions or attitudes of others do not affect me). It is not what happens to me, but how I handle it, that determines my emotional well-being. I measure my success by who I am – a child of God.

No one in the entire world is more or less worthy or important than I am. I count my blessings and rejoice in my awareness of becoming the person God has called me to be. I am an action person and do first thing first and one thing at a time. I am warm and friendly toward all I meet; I treat everyone with consideration and respect. I am kind, compassionate and gentle with myself.

This shows us where we are with a proper love of self. This is not selfishness but having the appropriate respect for who we are. We could use some of these statements and modify them a little to see if we have proper respect for our neighbor.

For example, the first statement might read, I value everyone as an important person, and worthy of my respect. Another example could be, I feel warm and loving toward others, for they are unique and precious beings, doing the best they can, ever growing in wisdom and love. Try it!

We could do a similar thing with God. We could ask ourselves, “Do I love and respect God who created, redeemed and made me a member of his family? This could be a great meditation!