“For the whole law can be summed up in this command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
It has been said when discussing the act of finding love, that the secret to loving another person is to love oneself first.
Some may see this as selfish, but when looking at the command “to love others as ourselves,” it is hard not to consider the way we treat the very one whom God has made and loved.
In order to love our neighbor we must love the spirit of His love that lives in us. It is the same spirit that drives us to honor ourselves. To embrace the person He has made us to be.
Galatians 5:22-23 lists the spirit that dwells in us when are are one with Christ, and know His love-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is these very same fruits that work to help us love one another. Ourselves. And our neighbors.
Think about it. Would you treat yourself with contempt? Not be gentle with oneself, and then expect to be able to treat others with respect and gentleness? Probably not likely.
How do we practice this love in the way we treat ourselves, and then in turn show this to others?
Be joyful. Knowing that life isn’t always positive, but we can walk through our days radiating joy through laughter. Being grateful for what is good, and speaking without negativity. This joy can then be demonstrated to others in the way we approach them. Do we smile when we see them? Do we point out those things that make us proud of them?
Be at peace with where you are on your journey. Accepting trials as God’s way of helping you grow. So that you can accept the journey of growth in those you love as well.
This also requires patience. Knowing some things change and some things take time. Your growth takes time. The growth of others will, too. But it is also being present and patient when we feel life is in a rush-not tapping our foot and huffing at the person in front of you in the checkout, but realizing they most certainly probably have places to go, too.
Love demonstrates faith, not only in God, but also in others. Faith that our righteousness, and our goodness will shine for others to see. The goodness that is shown through honesty. Our ability to acknowledge when we are wrong. Our ability to ask for forgiveness. Our desire to be who we say we are in public, as well as in private. So that people have faith in our word, and grow to trust us and in turn Him.
When times get hard. When we mess up and fall, we control our tongue. The things we say to ourselves. We don’t believe the lies that cause us to feel shame, so that when someone else fails, as they will-we will know just the right words to say so they don’t feel it either.
We give ourselves a break when we are unlovable. Offer a second chance. Words of kindness and love.
And as we know we would want gentle words spoken to us in our knothead moments, we must speak the same words of love to others. In all our interactions. With ourselves in our moments of weakness. With all people. Even those that are not so kind to us.
In everything we do, and everything we say-we must always demonstrate His spirit of love.