And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39 (NKJV)
Do you ever feel like the most “Christian” thing to do is to take care of everyone else, putting your own needs on the back-burner? Although being the martyr in this way can have its place, we have to be careful. If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s going to have consequences.
Imagine a mom who approaches parenting this way, never taking care of her own needs. Wearing herself thin will cause her to become grouchy and irritable over time. The fatigue and frustration she experiences will likely cause her to say or do things that damage her relationships, which will lead to guilt and shame. At the same time, she will be influencing her daughters to disrespect themselves in a similar way, and she’ll cause her sons to make wrong assumptions about how women should be treated. The best thing she can do for her kids is to model healthy self-respect.
In today’s verse, Jesus commissions us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. In other words, we need to value others the same way we value ourselves. If we don’t value ourselves or we assume that we have to earn our value through our behaviour, it’s impossible for us to value others in the same unconditional way that God values us.
The truth is, you have infinite value, not because of what you do, how you look, how much money you make, who you know or how good you are. You are valuable simply because God made you! The more you recognize this value, the more you will be empowered to love and value others, just as they are.