The love that you have for God, yourself, and your neighbors is intertwined in a way that you can’t have one without the others. Here’s what the Bible says about love and how it starts with the Lord.
The concept of self-love goes far beneath the surface and roots itself into the heart of every person. You want nice things, good food, and a comfortable bed, because those things are best for you — no one else. Yet this concept also exposes a catch-22, because to love God is to lose yourself. When you give yourself more attention, you necessarily give less to God, the only source of true, unconditional love.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should see yourself as unworthy of care. 1 Peter 5:7-9 tells you to “be alert and of sober mind” so that you can resist the devil, and stand “firm in your faith” (NIV). Moreover, Galatians 6:2 instructs you to bear your neighbor’s burdens. How can you do these things if you don’t care for your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing?
There’s no doubt that you’re loved, wanted, and desired. Loving yourself goes back to receiving God’s love. And upon receiving His love, you shall know that you’re loved.
Loving God is the centerpiece of all other loves. Without it, you can’t give your neighbors quality love that stems only from first being fulfilled in your soul. In other words, you can’t give what you don’t have. Unconditional grace and love have one source, and to know Him is to extend that grace and love to others.
John 3:16 points to God’s powerful yet personal love for creation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV). This in part shows that your main responsibility is to receive. In fact, there’s nothing that you can truly give God that He hasn’t first given you. You must learn to accept and receive and to relax in His endless love and mercy. Then and only then can you reciprocate this love.
The Book of Revelation describes believers as the Bride of Christ. Here the Church takes a feminine form, and God takes the masculine. The Church is the bride, because it submits to His authority and receives His guidance. In short, to love God is first to receive His love. Only after it receives can it see the overflow of action swelling from the heart.
Your neighbors have wants and needs just as you do. They also need God just as you do, a fact that opens you to share the Gospel and Christian love with them, and love them despite their faults. In fact, Jesus called loving others as yourself the second greatest commandment (Mark 12:31).
A renewed mind no longer is concerned with the way of the world but the advancement of God’s kingdom. This advancement requires all believers to go out, and share this love. This mission also looks different to everyone. For some, it’s loving others through financial means. For others, it’s through adoption or through serving the Church.
However you serve, it’s as simple as getting up to make breakfast for a spouse and as sacrificing as risking your life for lost souls in other nations. God’s love is never stagnant. It’s like a river that invites the weary to drink and to be restored.
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