Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ - Matthew 22:37-39
I have recently asked the question, “Are we loving ourselves enough to love others?”
My spirit was prompted with this question after I was at the park with my daughter and I heard multiple adult conversations take place about hating their neighbors, speaking lowly of their children and even themselves.
It grieved me.
As we continued to play in the park’s recreation, Holy Spirit began to dust off my lenses. Layer by layer, I clearly was able to see that God’s children are not truly loving themselves and others because they are not living out the first and greatest commandment of all; loving their God, their Father first.
Although it can seem like we are living out “loving your neighbor as you love yourself” because we think we love ourselves well. However, I know there is a reason Jesus explained that we are commanded to love God first, and the process is first for a good reason.
Without it, we cannot truly love ourselves well.
How are we able to love God first when the world around us is saying that to really experience loving ourselves, we must put ourselves first above everything else?
And because everything is becoming so quickly and easily accessible, the need to fulfill and occupy the empty spaces of our souls is literally at the click of a button. Although it may fulfill for a moment or bring temporary joy, I personally have found that it’s entirely unfulfilling. The deep search dive to loving ourselves leads to nowhere if we aren’t involving our Creator.
I believe many of us are missing the true love of God. And I believe we miss it when we are dependent on other things rather than being in our Father’s presence.
It can be us waiting on a word or prophecy from someone else to map out the hopes of our future. Or it’s seeing that Instagram post to subside our doubts quickly and conveniently for the season or circumstance we are in. Yet, what I am also seeing is that many in the church desire an intimate encounter with the Father, but lack taking the time to encounter Him.
In reality, God’s presence never leaves us. He is waiting on us to actually be still. He wants to encounter us. His true love for us is more than a moment, it’s eternal.
Now these questions remain: Are we inviting God, the Father into every avenue of our lives to experience a deep love for Him? Are we loving God with ALL of our heart? With ALL of our soul? With ALL of our mind?
I think it’s important to understand how God defines love and diminishes our current views that love is simply an emotion or feeling subject to change. Love is the entire law of God.
We are not meant to love God with only a part of ourselves, but we are to pursue our love for Him in every facet of our lives.
Love is a decision in action where our abiding becomes a living sacrifice.
Because loving God is exclusive.
Will we set our hearts on what delights God so we can love with all of our heart?
Will our souls become most satisfied with what pleases the Father?
Will our minds be so anchored to the living breathing Word of God, that it remains our final authority?
The importance of these two commandments is key because they cannot work alone.
When we love God first, we not only step into abiding in His commandment but we can fully love our neighbor with our best self.
When we take the time to just sit and be with our Father, we come to know who He truly is. We come to know the heart of the Father.
His heart of love pours out onto us and through this radical experience, we come to know what loving ourselves really means. We become a mirror reflection of our good Father and it is then that we are able to pour that same love onto others.
Loving God first is a command. We must make a commitment to it. It is not always going to feel good or easy. We, as God’s children, were created for this. May we be inspired to fully set our hearts, souls and minds first on our Father who delights in us.
“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought
to full expression in us.” - 1 John 4:12 NLT
“No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor. But if we love one another, God
makes his permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in him, and his love is
brought to its full expression in us.” -1 John 4:12 TPT
~ Stefanie Rodriguez