Is It Important To Love Your Neighbor As Yourself?

Loving my neighbor, loving myself

"The first and great commandment is to love the Lord with your heart, soul and mind...and the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." - Matthew 22:37

I recently learned a lesson about loving my neighbor as myself.

My friend, Mary Lou, and I, went to a matinee. Before the movie started four elderly women sat kiddie corner from us. Throughout the coming attractions they continued to talk loud and to laugh non-stop.

The noise was so distracting that Mary Lou and I moved a few seats down. I complained to her, "I cannot stand to spend my hard earned money to see a movie and have it interrupted like this!"

Mary Lou was just as annoyed as I, and she agreed with me.

However, the minute the main feature began they all quieted down. I became engrossed with the film, and I forgot about my grumbling.

After the movie my friend and I ran into these four ladies in the rest room. One of the women was drying her hands next to Mary Lou. She smiled at her and remarked, "Your hair is so lovely!" Mary Lou returned the smile, and she thanked her.

At that moment we both made eye contact with the other three women who were also smiling at us. We smiled back, and we exited the ladies room.

When we got into the car, I immediately said, "I want to apologize for the way I behaved in the theatre! I acted terrible, and those women were so kind to us."

I continued, "Shame on me! They were not doing anything wrong! They were living their lives and having a wonderful time, and here I am, a Christian and a hypocrite!"

Mary Lou burst out laughing. she said, "I was so mad at them for talking I almost went up to them and told them to quiet down. Then I felt the same way you did in the ladies room!"

What an eye opener that was!

Who were these women? At that time, they were our neighbors.

Who are our neighbors? The definition of 'neighbor' in the dictionary is "fellow man;" "to be near or next to."

Our neighbors are not just those who live next door or on our block. Our neighbors are those who sit near us in restaurants, ride an elevator with us, or share the highway with us...to name a few examples.

After this incident I discovered at least eight places in the Bible where we are commanded to love not only our neighbor but ourselves as well.

For example, Mark 12:31 reads, "There is no other commandment greater than these."

So. I am to love my neighbor as myself.

How do I love myself?

It has taken me a very long time to realize that loving myself has nothing to do with my flaws, what happened in the past or even yesterday.

For years one of my major weaknesses has been guilt which began at an early age. Maybe it was an abandonment issue. My twin sister and I were adopted at age four by our grandparents on our father's side because our mother and dad moved to New York City to pursue acting, rather than raising us.

At age five I walked past a produce stand on the way home from Kindergarten. I took a bite of an apple, and I put it back. When a male classmate saw me, he shouted, "I'm going to call the cops!"

I ran home like a scared rabbit. I sat at the living room window terrified the police would show up any time.

One day I got caught picking our next door neighbor's daffodils. She told me I was a horrible child.

In third grade, standing in line to go outside I jumped up and down to see out a high window. I head butted the teacher in the face, and I knocked off her glasses. She angrily told me what an awful person I was.

I grew up starving for approval. After college, during job interviews, when questioned, I always replied with an answer I thought the person interviewing me wanted to hear. I had no courage to speak from my heart. Of course they saw right through me, and I did not get the job.

Upon reflection I learned that, over the years, I had taught people how to treat me. I never disagreed with an individual who was nasty to me or who criticized me. Instead, I hung my head. It was always me who said, "I'm sorry" even if I knew the other person was wrong.

It has been a long, strenuous journey for me to learn to love myself. However, accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior at age nineteen has been a step in the right direction.

Now I have Someone in my life who truly loves me and Who will never let me down. Christ Himself said to His Father, "I can of my own self do NOTHING."

Neither can I.

I must totally depend on the Holy Spirit Who lives in me to manifest Himself through me. Loving myself is love the SELF of the Spirit of God Who lives in me and through me.

This is great news!

I know He forgives me immediately for my mistakes because He has provided me with a great gift: a conscience. The minute I screw up (and, believe me, I do it ALOT), my conscience immediately taps me on the shoulder and makes me aware.

The event with those three women in the movie theatre is a great example. I went to Mary Lou, then God, and I asked forgiveness.

Both understood. Both loved me anyway.

Although I have not read the Bible from cover to cover, I've studied it enough to know that if I hate myself, I cannot love others.

I have to remember that, in my humanity, I will make mistakes along the way.

Loving myself consists of taking care of me first, especially my body, the temple God has placed me in. Getting my sleep. Exercising. Eating right. I've learned that if I feel good physically, it helps me to deal much better with stressful situations.

All my life I've been taught that it's self-centered to put me first and that I should put everyone and everything else ahead of me. However, while conforming to the demands of society, (even other Christians) I never got to me.

I had been so busy with meeting the expectation of others I would be too exhausted by the end of the day to do anything for myself. It finally dawned on me if I kept this up I would pass into eternity with absolutely no purpose achieved, no dreams realized, no chance to do the things I love doing.

God's command to love myself changes everything.

Each morning I take my bath. After, I immediately take my walk with my thermos of coffee. I admire the awesome sky, gaze at the trees and listen to the birds. I thank God over and over for a new day of life, and I ask Him to guide me intuitively moment by moment.

One morning on my walk I asked God, "What is life?"

His inaudible reply: "This."

On my return home I write a letter to God. Afterwards I place my finger on the name of everyone on my prayer list, and I pray for them individually (several are hub friends).

So I ask, "How important is it to love your neighbor as yourself?"

The answer: God has commanded it. Therefore, I believe it is not only important but vital.

If I don't love myself, if I don't forgive myself, I will not love or forgive others. Why? Because "others" are my neighbors, friends, family, co-workers - even strangers.

Finally, I've learned love begins with me. I sincerely hope to encourage anyone reading this hub that love also begins with you.

God bless you all, Sincerely, Sparklea :)
















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Comments 29 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

The most beautiful of all lessons and one vital for us to find happiness here on Earth. Excellent way to return to our fold, Lea. You have been missed and I'm so happy to see you writing again.

Thank you for this message and reminder of what is important in life....in a word...love.

Love to you my dear friend

bill


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 3 years ago from Upstate, New York

I so enjoyed message of this Hub. From the lesson in the theater with the three elderly ladies to how you felt when you took a bite of that apple or accidentally hit the teacher with your head, it was a great message straight from the heart.

Thank you for the inspirational afternoon. Many blessings to you.


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

billybuc! What a riot! I was writing a comment on your recent hub then clicked on my email and found your comment! You are incredible and so loyal to hubbers. I will always consider you a mentor and a role model on Hub Pages. THANK you from my heart for your lovely words, means so much.

By the way I just told you in my comment that I didn't even know if this hub went through because I had an awful time getting it published, and I had to do it over again. So hearing from you, I guess I must have hit the right buttons this time.

God bless you real good. You continue to be a valuable treasure on Hub Pages. I have other hubs I want to write...it has just been so hectic because of my being ill.

We did not celebrate our family Christmas until February...when I was feeling better...I called it our Valentine Christmas! So I am STILL catching up! Blessings always my friend. Sparklea :)


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

shiningirisheyes: THANK YOU so much for your comments.

I have been behind in everything (including Hub Pages) because of so much going on in my life...and I FINALLY attempted to do another hub...but the editors changed the format and I had an awful time. You and billybuc have confirmed that it went through this time...the first attempt was a total failure!

I so appreciate your feedback, and I learn most of my lessons from experience, and, often, from my flaws. God bless you real good, and thanks again. Sparklea :)


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Hi Sparklea!!!

Oh, what a loving and encouraging hub here you have written. Yes, we have all fallen short haven't we . . . in my case, each day! I am so glad His mercies are new each and every morn no doubt.

You have written so beautifully of what it really means to love oneself. It has taken me a long time to do so too, but now that I am able to because of His love first for me, I am able to love others as I should, but I mess up each and every day too, and that is okay, and the main reason we need Him in our lives.

I am so glad you are feeling up to writing again, as it is such a blessing, as you really do write from the heart, which, in my mind, makes the best of writers!

I was so thrilled when I saw that you had published a hub, I had to read immediately.

Thank you for this great message and reminder to us all what it really means to love your neighbor as yourself.

You're the best!

God bless you real good too, as you always say to others.

Voted up ++++ and sharing of course.

In His Love Always, Faith Reaper


teacherjoe52 profile image

teacherjoe52 3 years ago

Good morning sister.

Glad you have learned a very valuable lesson but may I add one never forget Jesus loves you and Jesus does not love losers.

God bless you with a loving relationship with your caring loving Father Jehovah.


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Oh, Faith, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your feedback and your beautiful comments. I hope to publish more hubs in between so much going on.

Great to see you on Hub Pages also.

Everything that happens in life has hidden lessons if we just make ourselves more aware and listen to the small Voice within. That movie experience really nailed me and I believe God was in it.

My sister often says to me, "Every day God flattens me like a pancake."

All I know is that He sure keeps me humble.

So glad you can relate to what I wrote.

Please stay in touch and I SO appreciate your taking time to read this hub. God bless you real good! Sparklea :)


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

teacherjoe: Good morning to you also, brother! Thank you so much for taking time to read this hub and I so appreciate your comments.

Yes, it is wonderful to go to bed each night knowing our Savior loves us, and I thank God every day for the gift of life and especially His grace and mercy. God bless you real good, Sparklea :)


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Life is wonderful if you make it so, and when you take your walks it must make you feel great about life too, a beautiful way of seeing nature and appreciating life too.


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

DDE Thank you for reading my hub and for your comments, so very much appreciated. I can't express how a morning walk is a wonderful spiritual time ...and a great way to start my day. I even walked last year in the awful flood with the rain coming down in buckets. I had to throw my umbrella away...the rain and winds demolished it...and I was soaked, but STILL blessed. Thanks from my heart, Sparklea :)


CJ Sledgehammer 3 years ago

Blessed, Sparklea:

With joy I have read your newest Hub and I rejoice in knowing that your health is returning. :0)

I hope you know how much you mean to me and let me tell you something...you make it easy to "love thy neighbor".

Humble, generous, thoughtful, considerate, selfless, devout, loyal and kindhearted are just a small sample of the traits that surround your loving persona. I truly marvel at the friend you are and the life you have lived. I am honored and humbled that you consider me your friend and worthy of your time.

Indeed, I have always struggled with this verse because we are also told that those who love their life will lose it and those who despise their life will gain it. Then we are told that those who put themselves first shall become last and those who place themselves last...shall become first. A subtle contradiction? Not at all.

With the high levels of self-esteem that is cultured and nurtured within the schools today (not to mention the mass media), it's not hard to find people who love themselves thoroughly, but at the same time it seems that our society is growing colder spiritually and the love rendered toward strangers and even to our neighbors is growing dim.

I believe that most people care for themselves, forgive themselves freely and naturally think about what is in their own best interest, so it is our mandate to show our neighbors as much consideration as we typically show ourselves. Call it love or call it consideration...a rose by any other name is still a rose.

If you ever begin to feel bad about yourself, Sparklea, you give me a call and I'll set you straight. :0)

May the God of Love flood your soul - C.J. Sledgehammer

P.S. Voted up, interesting, awesome, useful and downright beautiful!!!


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

CJ, your comments have almost brought me to tears. Not to mention your votes. I don't know what to say! All I know is that those who hurt people are hurting, and for the most part they do not feel good about themselves. It is all about turning to God each time you mess up ACCEPTING His Grace and Mercy, which He gives freely to those who have received Him, then moving forward without looking back.

Looking back is difficult not to do, but look at what happened to Lot's wife when she looked back.

I stand on the Bible verse to 'shake the dust off your feet' and move on to another city. I have ALOT of dust on my feet!

Since my illness I see life not as facing another day, but as LIFE, given freely as a NEW day, and the wonderful mystery of what lies ahead. Everything is different now.

God bless you for taking time from your busy schedule to read and comment on this hub.

BIG BLESSINGS ALWAYS, Sparklea :)


skye2day profile image

skye2day 3 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Sparkela Were you reading my mail sister? lol Hello dear one. Oh my what a wonderful heartfelt hub filled with the Grace of God and His tender mercy and heart. He is so wonderful and amazing. This is really a beautiful hub and I sat reading engrossed in your words.

Fun, loving, heartfelt, humble, precious and moving. You shine because Christ shines in you girl. Keep em coming child of God.

I am a twin as well. Identical. One day I hope to write about the adventure. It truly is a gift from above. As is all of life. We fit into His grand design girl. We are children of the King of Kings, Amen. Love ya. Skye


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

skye2day: you are a treasure and such an inspiration to HubPages! Thank you from my heart for your kind words. Being an identical twin is quite a journey! My sis calls me every single day to say hello.

God bless and I so appreciate your comments. Glad to have a hub friend who is also a twin! Blessings, Sparklea :)


lab143 profile image

lab143 3 years ago

Wow! What great insight! To love your neighbor, you have to love yourself. Don't take yourSELF out of the command. In order to effectively love your neighbor, you have to love yourSELF first. Thanks for sharing such valuable information!


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

lab143 THANK YOU so much for your comments! And for taking time to read this hub. And for following me! I looked at your profile, and you are so inspirational. I will follow you, too! God bless you real good, Sparklea :)


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

Nice way of telling a story of loving your neighbor. It is so true that you can only love others once you love yourself. God Bless.


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

truthfornow: thank you so much for your feedback and encouragement. God sure keeps me humble on a daily basis. I can only live my life by total dependence on God. Blessings, Sparklea :)


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I often teach this to my Ethics class, you have to love yourself first before you can love others. God helps us to understand the truth of this as we trust in him. Thanks for the inspiration.


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you teaches 12345! I can honestly say that people whom I have known or worked with throughout my life...if they are mean, nasty, or put other people down, they have low self esteem, and they definitely do not love themselves. Therefore they attack others and put them down to make themselves feel better. What's sad is that it does not work.

Thank you for taking time to read this, so much appreciated. God bless, Sparklea :)


DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 3 years ago

There are many lessons I remembered learning in just this one hub.I will have to go in full detail another time.Your words hit home and strike a chord through my whole body.We all learn at different speeds and some people are faster learners than others.I seem to be the guy at the end who says you go first.You can go next.You are more important.I am in no hurry you can go.Then when it gets to be my turn I am the last one and they say can you come back tomorrow .I gladly say sure I am so lucky to be given an opportunity.Sometimes we have to say I was next and you will have to wait like I did.Thanx for sharing and caring so much.


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Dream On, what a great story - another clue to the way you feel about life. I love reading your hubs and stories...your poetry, as if you are talking to the reader. Thank you so much for reading this hub and taking time to comment. I am still going through my inbox and I will reply to your other note, hopefully, by the end of the day or in the morning. God bless, Sparklea PS: The cats are all awake and acting as if they have not eaten in HOURS. Not true. So cute. So glad you also like animals.


ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina

Sparklea,

I wish I had some way to express to you how much this hub means to me. You not only tell a beautiful story, you do so in such a way that your beauty and your soul comes through. Thank You my friend for being you.

Many Blessings Always,

Kim


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York Author

ocfireflies/Kim: THANK YOU for visiting this hub, so much appreciated!

The above was written from my heart, and I am not afraid to mention my flaws when I write...as I have found, from my own experience, that reading stories from others frequently teaches me great lessons. God bless you real good, Sparklea :)


married2medicine profile image

married2medicine 2 years ago from Europe

Oh, God bless you sparklea for the wonderful message straight from your heart.. The stories you have shared and the lessons you have learnt are worth reading and sharing. The S.I unit of love is ourselves, because we cannot share or give what we haven't experienced or do not have. When we sure love ourselves, then we should love our neighbours EQUALLY! One other strong point about this is...... Loving your neighbour signifies loving God, because we cannot claim to love our creator whom we do not see and the only evidence to such a claim is loving our neighbours we do see... As I have always told me friends, Christianity is all about Love, anything outside this is religion of Man. You really made my time well spent. Thank you and hopefully, I will read more of such a blessed piece!

Cheers


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 2 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you from my heart married2medicine! What an honor to hear from you and for your sincere comments. I so appreciate your stopping by and providing feedback. God bless you real good. Sparklea :)


Express10 profile image

Express10 23 months ago from East Coast

It was as if you were speaking to me when I read "It was always me who said, "I'm sorry" even if I knew the other person was wrong." I've done this for much of my life and am still in the throes of learning how to teach others how to treat me. It's a long term journey if you've done things to mostly to please others most of your life. I thoroughly enjoyed this hub!


Sparklea profile image

Sparklea 22 months ago from Upstate New York Author

Expresso, thank you from my heart for your very kind words! Believe it or not I have to refer to this hub often just to REMIND me of what I shared! The other day I spilled something and I got so disgusted with myself for my carelessness...and my husband said, "Just ACCEPT yourself, accept who you are!" So now when I am clumsy I just say, "this is me, I accept myself!' So much simpler! I So appreciate your comments. God bless, Sparklea :)


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 14 months ago from Home Sweet Home

The bible says so, we treat our neighbors as friends, not as our family members because they gossip a lot behind our backs

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