It should be no surprise that the first word in our Live Intentionally Series for the month of February is love! It might be a little cliche, but since most people talk about romantic kind of love with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought it would be beneficial to focus on a different kind of love. We often hear about love in friendships and with family. But what about loving yourself (or the lack of…)? We need to learn how to love ourselves first in a very non-selfish way. Then we will effectively care for those in the world around us.
In the New Testament, Jesus had so many interactions with the Pharisees, teachers of the law, and the Jewish people. He was asked questions by people who wanted to genuinely know His thoughts or discreetly test His knowledge. During His ministry, He was asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28, NIV) I think that many people were surprised by Jesus’ answer. At a time in history when there was much divisions between different people groups, here was his answer:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31, NIV)
Jesus gave us two answers. He not only gave two instructions, but reading closely, he gave three. He told the people to love God, love others, and love yourself. But I think the interesting part is that He compared loving others to loving yourself. He doesn’t instruct us to hate ourselves or never think of ourselves in order to love other people. There is an important message here in His short words.
We have to love ourselves before we can successfully love others! It sounds so easy until we really think about what we don’t like about ourselves. To Live Intentionally, we have to love ourselves. To love who we are, we have to be purposeful about who we are becoming, daily habits we are setting into motion, and deal with the hard things. All so we can be healthy – emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. What this means for us is we have to practically sit and think of ways that we can have self-care as a part of our routine, so we can better love others as whole people. If you’re already to a place where you know goals and projects you need to do, consider purchasing the Goal & Project Planner to write out action steps and check in each month on your progress.
One of my favorite verses is Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” It sets for us the ideal reality that we can live in these attributes all the time. But if you take a minute to think about it, you can’t have any of those traits unless love comes first. Love for God, love for others, and love for yourself.
Before you go about your busy day, take a moment to think and journal about the following questions to Live Intentionally by Loving Yourself:
- How have I/haven’t I been loving myself?
- What are 3 practical habits I can start so I can love myself better?
- How can I care for myself today that promotes self-love?