“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NIV)

“The most important one (commandment),” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”(Mark 12:30-31 NIV)

These verses of scripture also known as The Golden Rule we learned in elementary school commands us to treat everyone the way we want to be treated. We do this by loving our neighbors as we would ourselves. The part I enjoy about these scriptures is that they already assume you know how to love yourself and therefore you know how to love others. It also assumes the opposite, if you don’t love yourself then you will be unsuccessful in loving others. But what exactly is love? This verb is used so loosely and widely these days, the confusion around this word is evident. We use to love to express our gratitude for food, favorite artists and anything materialistic. However, the Bible is a true love story that not only defines but shows the true definition of love all throughout.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)

We accept the love we think we deserve, both from ourselves and from others.  If you don’t think you deserve to be loved deeply with every implication of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 you will never know love. And the truth is we are all unworthy of this type of love, but by God’s magnificent grace we love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19) and now we are free to live in this type of life-changing love. Are you patient with yourself when you mess up or just can’t get it right? Are you kind to yourself? Are you satisfied and content with what God has given you as to not be envious of others? Remember, love is a verb. Just like it is our decision to give our lives to Christ, it is a decision to love. Take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror and choose to love yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Don’t accept anything less than the love you deserve. If you choose to love yourself, you will have no problem loving someone else or accepting this love from others. Don’t settle for less or shortchange yourself or your neighbor when it comes to love.

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