A well-known scripture known as the “Golden Rule”, states, do unto others as you would have them do unto you…(Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). Of course, we would like to be treated with respect, we would like to be treated fairly, and we would like to be valued for who we are. This scripture is a good foundation for learning to love others. Notice the scripture does not say, treat others the way they treat you, however, this is more commonly how people interact with each other.
Jesus summed it up like this “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
First, if you love God with all your heart, soul and mind, he will be the source of your happiness (Psalms 37:4) you will trust him (Proverbs 3:5-6) and you will desire his will for your life (Psalm 119:33-37). Loving God as he deserves is a life time pursuit that we will never fully achieve, however, the most difficult commandment to follow may be number two. Love your neighbor, as yourself. Not because you have difficult neighbors. Difficult, because although love your neighbor comes first in the sentence, as yourself, implies that you are in the process of loving yourself. You must love yourself, before you can truly love anyone else. These two words, as yourself, are a vital ingredient for truly fulfilling these commandments and living a life of love.
Loving yourself is possibly the hardest and most neglected part of learning to love God and others. First you must acknowledge that God loves you, that he finds you worthy of his love.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:5-6)
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
How great is the love the Father lavished on us that we should be called children of God (I John 3:1)
To love yourself you many need to say “no” to others, even spouses or children, occasionally. To love yourself you may need to set boundaries in your relationships with friends and family whose behaviors are hurtful or negative.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
Above all else, above everyone and everything, keep track of what you allow to influence your heart, because it is out of your heart that you love others. If your heart is damaged how will you love God? How will you love yourself? How will you love others?
As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man. (Proverbs 27:16)
For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew12:34; Luke 6:45)
Pay close attention to what your mouth speaks in the days ahead and you will see the reflection of your heart. You will also find a place to begin learning to love.
Zondervan (1991) Life Application Study Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: USA