The other day I happened upon the admonition or model for Christian living that my mother taught me when I was a wee lad. I am sure most of you have learned it, too, or at the very least you have encountered it somewhere. It is this:
God first, others second, self last.I submit that Jesus was more reasonable than Mama was in this instance. When asked, "What is the greatest commandment?" he replied, "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment." Then he told the questioner more than he asked, for he continued, "The second is like unto it: Love thy neighbor as thyself."
The first requires no interpretation. It is clear. The second, I infer, is telling us that love of others is dependent upon love of self, for you cannot love others if you lack love for yourself. Still, the commandment is to love your neighbor.
I am thinking of the chorus of a hymn we used to sing
How beautiful to walk, In the steps of the Savior, Stepping in the light, Stepping in the light, How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, Led in paths of light.
--Eliza Hewett, c. 1890
I've had a blog post about this very subject bouncing around the back of my brain for a while now.
The version of your mother's teaching that I've heard is this: JOY: Jesus first, others second, you last.
Unfortunately, I've seen that used to justify people not taking care of themselves in the service of others.
I think good self-care is common sense. I think this is an aspect of self-love, and if you don't do it, you can't love others very well because, frankly, your resources are tapped.
So the verses you quote have inherent to them a balance: *yes*, love God and your neighbor, *but also* love yourself, because the extent to which you love God and your neighbor will be limited if you can't or don't love yourself.
I was taught JOY- Jesus, Others, Yourself. (oh, hey, I see Jim beat me to that). Had forgotten that hymn. Needs to go in my songbook for walking. I had missed that one. Thanks!
Jim, excellent comments. Participation in the Sunday school lesson makes it so much more interesting. Go ahead and do your blogpost!
Sharkey, oh, yes; that song is a good one for walking-- whether on the trail in the woods or on the trail of life!
I sometimes think that love is (at least partly) about priority as it seems to involve putting God and others ahead of ourselves.
KC Bob, a discussion could be centered around love of others as it relates to mission and altruism. Though I interpreted Jesus’s words to imply that we should love ourselves as well as others, he certainly did not let us off the hook regarding responsibility toward others.
I love how Jesus turns love on its head when he tells us to love our enemies - aka love like he does.
KC Bob, difficult as it may seem to be, how can we not love those for whom He gave His life's blood? And that would include our "enemies."
Seems like I learn something new about love every time I read the gospels. Mostly the love of Christ looks like compassion but sometimes it looks like a rebuke. And sometimes the people who seem least likely to respond positively to a loving rebuke surprise us. Just ask Nicodemus and Zacchaeus. :)
KC Bob, Jesus always displayed love, but not always with kid gloves or huggies. And He is our model, after all. :-)
He seemed to be okay with anything but religious hypocrisy. Ouch.
KC Bob, seems the Master had some harsh words for hypocrites, including that one, "hypocrites." One asks himself, "Why am I uncomfortable when the preacher starts talking about transparency?" Again, Christ reminded us that while we look on the outward appearance, God sees straight through to the heart.
In my experience preachers (I used to be one) like to talk about transparency but, when you get to know them, are seldom transparent. :)
KC Bob, that, my friend, is an unfortunate truth that I also learned. Or perhaps they are following the admonition to preserve from their right hand the knowledge of what the left hand is doing?
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