Love Your Neighbor as You Love Yourself or Loathe Your Neighbor as You Loathe Yourself.
I have never met a person who could freely love and enjoy others who did not love themselves.
I’ve never met a person who loved themselves properly who did not love God first and foremost. The two go together…or should I say the three go together.
I hear churches and people say “Love God and Love Others.” That’s true but one important part is missing from that statement; “as yourself.”
Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Many people have a love/hate relationship with themselves. The problem is in their mind. Although it’s one of the most astounding gifts God has given us, it has been wired by our fallen nature and needs a complete overhaul. Left in its original state, it becomes the epicenter of misery.
If we allow the truth of God’s Word to saturate and transform it, it will become a fountain of delight to God, to others, and to ourselves.
We use all of our brain (it’s a myth that we only use 10%). However, there is a difference between our conscious brain and our subconscious brain.
About 10% (or less) of our brain is our conscious mind (things we perform, like thinking, eating, dancing, etc.).
When something is in our conscious mind, it’s deliberate and we’re aware of it.
The other 90% of our brain is the subconscious mind (breathing, heart beating, fingernails growing, pain, hunger, etc.).
“Our subconscious mind isn’t rational. It doesn’t make judgments and it can’t distinguish between right or wrong, good or bad. It simply accepts what it is told or shown as the truth, regardless of whether the information is true or not. Then, we automatically think and feel and behave in a way that is consistent with that truth. Your subconscious mind obeys instructions from your conscious mind.” ~Carol Ferguson (https://carolineferguson.com/how-your-mind-works/)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Only God knew our minds needed to be rewired because of the way they are designed when He had Paul pen those words. We have to have new information put into our minds once we are saved and filled with God’s Spirit. Our minds have been wired by the culture and our sin nature. Because of that we all struggle with hatred toward ourselves and others.
“For at one time we too were foolish, disobedient, misled, and enslaved to all sorts of desires and pleasures—living in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”
The world is full of haters. Our subconscious mind is all of that list. God saves our souls but our minds are a different story.
It minds take work to rewire.
Is it worth the effort? Our lives (and sanity) depend on it!
I think many people get terribly discouraged after they come to Christ. The beginning is like a honeymoon of bliss. We wonder why people struggle with anything. However, it doesn’t take long for reality to come crashing back in.
At that point we panic and think, “Was that even real? How could I have felt so good and now I want to go back and do some of those terrible things?” Our minds and the Holy Spirit are at odds with each other in the beginning.
Salvation is a moment in time. Sanctification is a lifelong journey.
There is a reason Jesus told us to make disciples. Salvation does not make a disciple. Teaching people the truth and reassuring them God isn’t angry with them is what makes a true disciple.
When we deeply believe something, it changes our behavior from the inside out. It’s the way God designed our brains. That’s the reason truth sets us free. What we believe will either enslave us or free us.
A lie is a lie, but if I believe a lie, it becomes my truth. When it becomes my truth, it enslaves me to misery.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.
Everything we think, we think is right or we wouldn’t think it. What hope do we have?
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.
His Word=Our Hope.
God has told us some things that would set us free if we would only believe them and keep telling them to our minds.
- There is no condemnation because we are in Christ (Romans 8:1)
- It is finished (if there was anything left to do for our salvation, Jesus could not have said those words).
- God ripped the veil that separated us from His Presence as soon as Jesus breathed His last breath. No human did this. It was a miracle. God went overboard to prove how perfect and complete His salvation was.
- He gave us story after story of redemption.
- The woman at the well (Five husbands and currently shacking up)
- The woman caught in adultery (in the very act)
- The tax collector who beat his chest and said, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Jesus said he went home justified before a holy God.)
- The demoniac who had a legion of demons in him became an evangelist in the Decapolis after Jesus cast them out.
They didn’t do anything that made them worthy of God’s acceptance. He made that very plain.
They let God love them and deliver them.
Jesus said with His own mouth that He didn’t come to call the righteous (there are none). He came for sinners.
If all of this is true, why do people loathe themselves?
Before we came to Jesus, we were condemned before God and terribly guilty. We may not have been able to put it into words, but we knew it. We were hostile to our Creator and we ran from His presence. He made us uncomfortable to put it mildly.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
Light (phos) Greek definition
In the New Testament, the manifestation of God’s self-existent life; divine illumination to reveal and impart life, through Christ.
Our subconscious brain has been wired one way our entire life. When we give ourselves to Christ, our brain is not replaced (sometimes I wish it were); it has to be renewed. We have to put new information into our conscious brain so our subconscious brain will start to accept it as truth and help us relax and enjoy the presence of God.
Because we stood before God condemned in our sinful state, it is very hard to accept the fact that we are no longer under any condemnation.
Our brain rejects that truth because it has been wired in condemnation.
We loved darkness and did dark and evil things and God’s Presence made us feel guilty. It’s very difficult to run into His Presence for comfort when we feel like He is going to bring the hammer down.
We have to take the information in the Bible (with the help of the Holy Spirit) and preach truth to our broken and fragile brains so God can make them whole. This does not happen overnight. It is a slow process. People will often try to tell us it’s not a slow process, but it is.
Denying what we think we know is very frightening to us. We all think we have life figured out and when we get serious with God, we have to admit to ourselves and Him that we are dead wrong about a lot of stuff.
This takes both humility and courage.
The beautiful part of our magnificent brains is that it is pliable and changeable. No one has to stay in their rut of stinking thinking. It is a choice.
A miracle happens inside of us when we take the information in God’s Word (it is the only book that is actually alive) and apply it to our damaged psyches. The only thing required of us is to read it and believe it.
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
Those words were written way before humans started to understand the power of belief and how information changes the way we act and think. God designed our brains and they got broken through the entrance of sin. Changing our brains takes “work” on our part. We have to tell ourselves over and over again what truth is.
What is truth?
Sin was removed as the barrier between us and a holy God through what Jesus did.
We can live in the Presence of God now through what Jesus did.
God is completely satisfied with us through what Jesus did.
When God looks at us, He sees His Son in His most noble moment; His death for unworthy sinners.
Everything about us, reminds God of His Son.
Did you notice that it is all about Jesus. We have no merit of our own and we don’t need it. We do the great work of believing in the Son.
When the Son sets us free, we can see ourselves through Him and love ourselves totally because we are totally and perfectly loved.
When we see ourselves through the Son, we can see others the same way. God is not hard on those of us in Christ because He was hard on His Son. Now my life and yours can be lived in gratefulness, praise, and freedom. We can love God, love our neighbor, and truly love ourselves.