Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all … 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)
Love thy neighbor. Love thy neighbor as you would love thyself. And so what is a good indication of how and if we love ourselves? Look at how you love your neighbor…or not love your neighbor.
Our “neighbors” are reflections of ourselves. If we look at others and feel love and show love, we are in turn loving ourselves. When we exhibit hatred or disdain for someone, we are showing hatred and disdain for ourselves. Think about that for a minute. It’s pretty simple, but yet so profound.
Treat others as you would treat yourself. Same principle. None of us is perfect. We all have faults and negative qualities we fight every day of our lives. Most of us know what our weaknesses are. It makes it a little easier to fight those negative things in us, but we still often fail to eradicate those things from our lives. But when we do fail, we want to still be loved. When we find ourselves acting out of weakness, we want to be forgiven and loved and understood in order to make those things easier to combat the next time. We should offer others those same blessings and unconditional love we want for ourselves. When our neighbor fails to live up to our expectations, we need to love them, forgive them and accept them for being the non-perfect person they are. We also want and need that from them. How can we ever expect to receive that love if we are not willing to provide that for them? You give to receive. Is love only reserved for those who never fail us or conform to what we feel they should be?
I believe somewhere in deep in my heart and soul consciousness that the first question God is going to ask every one of us when we are standing before him to chat about the life we just lived is going to be, “So, did you love your neighbor as you loved yourself?”. How many of us will be able to say without any hesitation or shame, “Oh yes, God, I did!”. Then comes the movie reel showing you the details of your life.
As the movie of your life passes before you, you start to understand what God meant when he said He wanted us to love one another as we love ourselves. You see that you may not have loved someone because of their skin color, sexual preference, ethnicity, economic class, political or religious affiliation, or intelligence level.
You may not have loved someone because of something they did to offend you. Whatever the reason, you will feel shame you could not or would not love them. Because to love them is to forgive them. To forgive them is to love them.
God doesn’t ask anything really more of us in this life than to love one another. I mean unconditionally. No conditions. No reasons. Have you ever loved completely without conditions as God does? Few people can. Few people do. Someone will always disappoint us. Someone will always disagree with us. Someone will always look and act different from us. Love is not selective. You don’t get to choose who you love because EVERYONE is your neighbor. And it is only when we can actually look at our neighbors with love, understanding, acceptance and forgiveness can we truly say we love ourselves.