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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


The Second Greatest Commandment

March 10, 2013

The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:31)

Jesus was asked, “What’s the most important commandment?” He answered that there were two: love for God and love for our neighbor.

In effect, Jesus gives us the cross. The vertical relationship is to love God; the horizontal crossbeam in life is to love others. When you see Jesus’ arms outstretched on the cross, ask yourself how much He loves you. Look at His extended arms and hear Him say, “I love you this much.”

In Luke 10, Jesus defines who our neighbor is. It’s not necessarily the person who lives next door or a family member or even a friend. According to Jesus, the neighbor includes even a person from a different religion and racial group — the Samaritan. The word “neighbor” as used by Jesus is an elastic term stretching from the persons relationally nearest to us and outward to any other human being.

This second greatest commandment assumes we love ourselves: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, you cannot love another better than you love yourself.

Many of us have a hard time doing that — loving ourselves. We still listen to the “tapes” drummed into us when we were kids — words spoken to us that had hard edges such as: “You’re stupid,” “You’re clumsy,” “You’re lazy,” “You’re so ugly no one would every marry you.”

Jesus is saying that we will never love others better than we love ourselves, that if we have poor self-love then that poverty of spirit will impact how we relate to others. This does not mean we have permission to become narcissistic or ego-centered.

Do you love yourself — in a wholesome, Christ-centered way? What keeps you from loving yourself? Will you make that a matter of prayer and take the steps needed to bring you to spiritual, mental, and emotional health?

If, however, we think that loving others as we love ourselves is tough, then Jesus ratchets up the difficulty even more when He tells us, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). Self-love thus becomes the minimal and threshold standard for loving others as compared to the higher standard of loving others as Christ has loved us.

How does He love us?

He loves us with words. Look at how Jesus talked kindly, lovingly and encouragingly to people. The only ones He had harsh words for were the religious hypocrites. The words Jesus speaks to us are spirit and life. That’s also how we must love others. Do our words bring others encouragement, hope and good cheer?

He loves us with actions. Jesus was always acting to help others. In His own words He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Do our actions help to heal the wounds in others — whether they are hidden or apparent? Do we serve the needy? Do others say of us, “You have a helping hand”?

But, Jesus goes far beyond loving with words and actions. He actually lays down His life for us. Are we willing to lay down our own lives for others? It may not be a physical death; it could involve subordinating or relinquishing our own desires to serve another.

These are hard questions that seek good answers: “Do I love others as I do myself?” “Do I love others as Jesus loves me?”.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, I admit I fall short of loving others. Help me to properly love myself and learn how to love even as You have loved.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

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2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

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