Three Things I Learned About Loving Others “As Yourself” – (Part 1)
by David Sanford
Every pastor and church leader who wants fully engaged board members, staff, and members needs to ask three probing questions.
- Do I understand the Greatest Commandment and take it seriously?
- Do I understand that I can love God wholeheartedly only if I have received, embraced, and cherished His deep love for me?
- Do I understand that I can love my neighbors as myself only if I love myself?
If you’re missing that last understanding—if it isn’t true of your board members, staff and church members—then the Greatest Commandment is mere theory. And, we’re definitely not alive at a heart level. Granted, we may be working hard. We may be doing our level best. Then again, let’s not kid ourselves. We’re not fully engaged.
To become more fully engaged, I highly recommend reading (or listening to) Jerry and Denise Basel’s landmark book, The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself.
Earlier this summer I spent three days with Jerry and Denise at their beautiful home north of Atlanta. They’re the real deal with a powerful message. Together, Jerry and Denise resolved a deep three-year nagging question/concern in my own life: What does it mean for me to obey Jesus and love others “as yourself”?
Here are three things I learned, and it’s made all the difference…
Supreme Priority of the Greatest Commandment
On more than one occasion, Jesus is asked which commandment is most important. Jesus replies, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” He continues, “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
In his first sentence about loving God, Jesus echoes the words of Deuteronomy 6:5. In his second sentence about loving others as ourselves, Jesus quotes Leviticus 19:18. The supreme priority of these two statements stands out more clearly in Matthew 22:40 when Jesus declares, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
There is nothing more important in all the Scriptures, in terms of what God asks of us, than to love Him wholeheartedly and to love others as we love ourselves.
(The other two things David learned will be in the next blog post.)
David Sanford is the author of the new book, Loving Your Neighbor: Surprise! It’s Not What You Think (available on our Resources page here).