After writing Monday’s and yesterday’s blogs, I read these verses as part of another devotional and it was another example of how God speaks to us and how His Word is living and vital. These verses tie together my thoughts from Monday and Tuesday. These verses address loving yourself and being free to do God’s Will (worship and spreading the Gospel). Many people live their lives thinking that others are holding them down or keeping them back from love, from their dreams, from financial freedom, or whatever particular goals they have in mind. In reality, not knowing who we are in Christ, not loving and valuing ourselves is what holds us back. For some people, past hurt caused by others has led to us devaluing ourselves, but when it comes down to it the only person who can truly hold you back is you.
The verses say that practicing real love, the love that Christ displayed and God expects, is the only way to live in God’s reality. It is the only way to experience the abundant life God has planned for us. In order to practice that kind of love, we must not only love God, but we need to give ourselves a break. Loving ourselves and knowing our place in God’s Kingdom will quickly shut down the voices that say, “You’re not good enough,” or “You’re not smart enough,” or “You’re not pretty enough.” I love the way The Message Bible says it; this is “debilitating, self-criticism.” It literally paralyzes us and prevents us from being who God intends for us to be. But, once you move past the past, you can be free to live a life full of love; you can walk in God’s purpose for your life. You can practice His two great commands.
First, you can love Him with everything you have. I have heard it said how can you love a God that you haven’t seen, but have hatred for your sisters and brothers? But, I will take it a step further. How can you love a God you have never seen when you cannot love the person you see in the mirror everyday? You can’t show love until you know love. God is love and if He loves you enough to die for you, then you can cut yourself a little slack; not a license to live any kind of way amount of slack, but respect yourself and believe God when He says that you are His. Once, you do you are free to worship in Spirit and Truth, and there is great power in that kind of praise.
Then, after you learn to truly worship Him, you can love others as you love yourself by sharing the Gospel. I am not sure that I have been in love with anyone other than my family and Christ. Nevertheless, I have thought that I was in love and been around people in love. So, I know that when you fall deeply for someone, you can’t help but tell everyone how that person has impacted your life. That is the same attitude that we should have about sharing God’s Word. It is not about quoting Scriptures; it is about the exuberant expressions of a lovesick, blood-bought, grace-receiving child of God. God commands us to love others, but you cannot possibly love someone truly if you hide God from that person. This is what pleases Him; living a life of love. So, forgive yourself, know your value, and live in love. Ms. EV