‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this. “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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 12:29-31
Someone recently asked me what God expects of us as parents in modern times. I responded with these verses. It all goes back to loving God and loving others as we love ourselves.
I was at a conference recently and one of the speakers, Annie F. Downs, talked about these verses. She pointed out that Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
We often forget that last part, don’t we? It’s often easy to love our neighbors, but do we love them as ourselves? Do we love ourselves well? Are we modeling these things for our children?
- For some of us, it might be really easy to love others, but not to love ourselves.
- For others, it might be really easy to love ourselves, but not to extend that same level of love to others.
What about you?
Jesus calls us to both.
Sometimes loving others as we love ourselves looks like:
- Helping someone within healthy boundaries you create for the relationship.
- Taking care of ourselves through time with God, rest, sleep, exercise and good nutrition so that we can pour out to others from a place of fullness, not emptiness.
- Getting up off the couch or stopping our work to help our children when they’re struggling with a task. While it might interrupt what we were doing, we’d want help if we needed it, right?
- Going to counseling so we can obtain healing for hurts in our lives so that we can love others and our families well.
If you’re in a place where you struggle with loving others as you love yourself, I encourage you to zoom out and take a bird’s eye view of your life. What are the short and long-term consequences of how you love others and yourself? What do you want your love legacy to be?
Our kids are watching how we love God, others and ourselves. May that be encouraging motivation for us to love others and ourselves as God loves us, freely and abundantly!