‘You Shall Love Yourself As Your Neighbour’
Self-care. A topic that has grown at an alarming rate over the past few years. A topic that is regularly described as ‘cliché’ and ‘not worthy of spending our time on’. A topic that is often side-lined in our daily lives for things that we deem more important, more time sensitive, more pressing.
I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day to rest, to take a break. To say to yourself “I’ll look after myself when I’ve finished my to do list” and then the to do list never seems to come to an end. To just keep on going even when your body and mind are telling you to just slow down. To feel like you can’t afford to take a single day off in case you miss something or fall behind or because of what others will think of you. It’s difficult, isn’t it? And sometimes, the difficulty doesn’t feel worth it because it’s so much easier to say ‘yes’ to that extra commitment even though it falls on your only evening off that week.
There’s a verse in the Bible in the book of Mark that I’ve heard time and time again: “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” - Mark 12:31
This verse is usually used to teach about loving others and how that’s the most important thing, right? But look at what else the verse says - ‘love your neighbour…as yourself’.
So, if we are supposed to be loving our neighbours fiercely and wholeheartedly, giving them everything we’ve got and showing them Jesus through the way in which we love - surely we should be loving ourselves just the same amount.
But, I wonder how many of us will do for ourselves what we do for others?
It’s interesting - but never fun - to find out what happens if we don’t love ourselves. We will always be striving, always on the verge of breakdown and we will never truly face the contentment that we have already been given through Jesus. We will always lean towards judgement and condemnation, we will always lean towards gossip and slander, and it will be so easy for us to side-line God and have our priorities swayed. And that can’t be what we want.
This verse shows us that loving ourselves is our duty. Because how can we love others and preach about it when we can’t even afford the same kindness to ourselves? It’s important to not go too far the other way and focus on nothing but ourselves, of course, but when you are one of your priorities you ensure that everyone gets the best from you. We become the best that we can be and love fiercely, care passionately and give extravagantly. We ensure that people see Jesus in us.
Enter: self-care. By looking after ourselves and showing ourselves love, we fill ourselves up so that we can effectively give out to others in the best way.