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Do We Really Understand the Command “Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself”?

Just when I think I’ve discovered the rock bottom depth of what pride has done to human beings, I find another way it has creeped into the makeup of our fallen nature.  I haven’t completely worked this out in my head, but it seems to be related to every sin we commit in one way or another.  Check out these lyrics Sevin included from the song “You Are God” on his latest album Purple Heart,

“If pride is not a substance we are swimming in, then why in our discussions are we reluctant to admit our sins”

Unfortunately it doesn’t stop with just admitting our sins.  I believe a detailed examination would show us that pride affects a great percentage of our interactions every day.  We need to consider how that affects the way we as Christians carry out the second greatest commandment Christ spoke.

I have a tendency to come into contact with a scripture and passively think “Oh that’s nice”, without actually digging into the application it should have on my life. I can’t tell you how many times I heard or read this verse before I really wrestled with what it was trying to tell me.

Mark 12:31 “The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

C. S. Lewis Mere ChristianityIt was the teaching of C.S. Lewis, in his incredible book Mere Christianity, that helped me ask an important question, “What if I don’t love myself?”  You know what I’m talking about–most of us are our own worst critics.  We see more flaws in ourselves than anyone else could possibly come up with.

Right before that verse, Christ gives the greatest commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  Frankly, once you actually know God, it’s not hard to be completely in love with Him.  It’s difficult to carry out in our daily lives at times, but at least that commandment is easily understandable.  This other one though, requires some dedicated thinking and examining to find out just how much we do love ourselves.

What Lewis has really done is seek to understand what it means to love.  Let’s be honest, there’s probably not a more misused word in existence.  So let me end this by sharing this wisdom from C.S. Lewis.  This is so good it hurts,

“When I look into my own mind, I find that I do not love myself by thinking myself a dear old chap or having affectionate feelings. I do not think that I love myself because I am particularly good, but just because I am myself and quite apart from my character. I might detest something which I have done. Nevertheless, I do not cease to love myself. In other words, that definite distinction that Christians make between hating sin and loving the sinner is one that you have been making in your own case since you were born. You dislike what you have done, but you don’t cease to love yourself. You may even think that you ought to be hanged. You may even think that you ought to go to the police and own up and be hanged. Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”

I once heard Lavoisier say, “Judge everyone as if they had a list of your sins in their pocket”.  The next time you go to open your mouth out of criticism of someone else, remember the grace and forgiveness you are always willing to show yourself.


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About Nathan Mathis

Nathan Mathis is affectionately known as Beardo, the bearded weirdo. He is a follower of Christ, a self-made thousandaire, and a lover of Hip-Hop. He currently owns and operates and runs an accounting firm with his father.

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