Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Often our inability to master a certain skill or our response to a shameful situation causes us to feel anger and self-condemnation. When we allow the seed of self-condemnation to grow, it sprouts bitterness and cynicism, the opposite of love.
Jesus was once asked about His view on the most important commandment in the law. He said there were actually two:
- to love God
- to love your neighbor as yourself
Often, it is summarized as “love God; love people.”
Unfortunately, when we summarize it in this way, we miss such an important element of what Jesus actually said, which was loving our neighbors as ourselves.
So we must ask the question: Have we allowed ourselves to be loved and forgiven by both God and others? Not just knowing that Jesus paid for our sins, but experiencing His forgiveness and feeling loved by Him? Or, are we choosing to believe the lie that we are stuck just the way we are?
Gipsy Smith, a British evangelist, once said, “There’s no sight like seeing the light from Calvary kiss a human face as it fills the heart with the assurance of Divine forgiveness.” Have you felt that Divine kiss in your life?
So many of the laws God gave to His people concerned relational matters, and one of them speaks about loving your neighbor as yourself.
Leviticus 19:18 (NIV)
18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
See, Jesus wasn’t the first to say this. Jesus was quoting the law in His answer; it was nothing new. The people who worshiped God had known about this commandment for thousands of years. We are still commanded to love ourselves first so that we can love our neighbor, for we can only give what we have received.
So what is holding us back? If Jesus’ work is enough to rescue us for eternity, why wouldn’t it be enough for our forgiveness in the present?
Where do you struggle to feel forgiven and loved by the Lord?
Let’s all take a moment, wherever you are as you are reading this, and take a deep breath and allow ourselves to feel forgiven and loved. Once we do that, then and only then, will we be able to truly pass it on to others.