Love Others Like You Love Yourself, Even When It Hurts

August 31, 2015 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership

Loving people can be easy.  It’s easy when we already like the people and they’ve never really hurt us.  It’s also easy if we don’t really hear what Jesus said in the 2nd greatest commandment.  “Love people like you love yourself.”  That is a tremendous and deep concept and it forces us to think about the way that we love ourselves and then apply that to other people.  It should force us to think about both the magnitude with which we love ourselves and the ways in which we love ourselves.  Obviously, we love ourselves a lot.  Even those of us who struggle with self-esteem, we are the people that we think the most about, try to help the most, are most worried about, etc. What if we thought about and helped and served and loved people as much as we do those things for ourselves?

It’s not just degree.  There are ways that we love ourselves that can be helpful in our understanding of what God has called us to.  I’ll mention 3.

1) I always do what is in my own best interest.  I never (intentionally) do something that I don’t believe is in my best interest.  Even when I sacrifice what I want for someone else, it’s because I believe it is best for me to be that kind of person.  Even if I were to hurt myself on purpose, it would be because I believe that I deserve it.  Everything I do is put through a grid of “Is this good for me?”  What if we used that same grid to consider the way that we treated others?  What would my relationships look like if I only did what was in their best interest?

2) I believe the best in me. I know that I make mistakes but I always have reasons. The bad things that I do are never as bad as you think they are.  If you only understood, then you would know that I’m still a good person.  That’s how we view ourselves but not how we view others.  We look at they way that they hurt us through the worst lenses.  I’m a good person with reasons for what I do.  You are a bad person with lame justifications and excuses. What if we chose to believe the best possible interpretation for what someone else is doing and worked hard to give everyone the benefit of the doubt?

3) I always give me another chance. I have never exhausted the grace that I am willing to give myself.  I have done more damage to myself than anyone else.  In fact, I have probably done more damage to myself than everyone else combined has done to me.  However, no matter how many times I have hurt me, I’m always giving me another chance.  I know that I didn’t mean it and that I’m going to turn it around soon.  However, if you hurt me a couple of times, then I’m done with you. What if we were always willing to give people another chance?

Those thoughts are all well and good, I know, when we are talking about people that we have a good relationship with that we need to love better, forgive better.  These are great tips for improving existing, relatively healthy relationships.  But what about those relationships that are just bad.  How do we love like ourselves those people that are the most unlovable? How do we love those that have hurt us repeatedly and wisdom would tell us that nothing is going to change?

1) Know the difference between mandatory and optional relationships.  You can’t be all done with your kids or your spouse (Cases of abuse being a counterexample.  Talk to a trusted friend, counselor or pastor in those cases and get help now).  God requires you to love and serve them. You cannot remove yourself from some relationships.  I know they continue to hurt you, but God’s love and forgiveness are unconditional and he is calling us to love our family in the same way.

2) Sometimes the best thing that you can do for a person is to create some real distance.  If the relationship is doing real damage, it is in their best interest to step back from a relationship where all they seem to do is cause pain.  You can believe the best in them by believing that with some distance and boundaries they will get better.  You are also forgiving them and giving them another chance in a more healthy context to get better.

3) Do not try and do this alone.  Too often we dismiss people when we are just being selfish and unforgiving.  Other times, we are trying to make something work and we don’t have the strength to do it.  In both kinds of circumstances, you need a trusted friend to lean on, to get counsel from and to just be a shoulder to cry on sometimes.

4) However, know the difference between a buddy and a friend.  A buddy will back up whatever you say.  A friend will challenge you when you are the problem.

5) Live deeply in the grace and forgiveness that God has given you.  You can’t do it alone.  You can’t even do it with just a friend.  You need to draw on the power and the experience of the love and grace that God has shown you.  We love because he first loved us.  It is the same with forgiveness.

God is calling us to love each other deeply and to model his love to the world.  The model becomes even stronger when people see the power of true forgiveness and restoration.  Don’t give up.

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