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‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’-Mark 12:31

I have always thought that putting myself before others was selfish. I have seen people take this concept and use it as an excuse to be selfish, so naturally the misuse of this teaching never sat right with me.

The truth is that you can’t actually love others until you learn to love yourself. This was a hard thing for me because a large part of my life I have not loved myself. I have been hard on myself. My self-discipline was not out of a love for myself but out of self disgust and a need for approval from others. My reasoning was that if others thought well about me, maybe I could feel good about myself.

If you know me, that may sound surprising, but I think everyone struggles in the area’s they compensate the most in. My compensation for self-hate was to do things that made me feel loved by others. For me it was the gym, dieting, always hanging out with people and the like. I needed to be needed because that’s where I found my value.

If your sense of value is external, you’re guaranteed to be disappointed. You must first learn to value yourself before you can truly love people out of pure motives.

The second greatest commandment is …

“ ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:”

Now the context of the second verse is Christ and his church but the example he provides gives us insight into a healthy marriage.

If the husband hates himself, how hard it will be for him to receive love from his wife.

I know many of you reading this can relate. Culture today has taught us to hate ourselves. We have societal standards that are impossible to live up to. Thus we may try to measure up but it comes from a place of needing approval about who we are.

You can certainly look the part but that doesn’t equate to internal satisfaction and peace. You can only give what you’ve received. If you have a hard time giving true love it’s because you first need to receive love.

I have good news friends. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Look at verse 11 in the passage above. Notice how it begins with God loving us, then concludes that because God loves us, we should love one another.

The love that God offers us is perfect, complete and fully available to every person. Human love will come and go but God loves us despite our faults and actions. You can’t earn Gods love, its undeserved and constant. We can only receive this free gift He gives us. Humans will disappoint us but God never will. God is perfect love and in Him we can be completely fulfilled, satisfied and receive true love. Then we can fully give love to others.

When we see our identity as loved sons of God, THEN we will be effective to love our wives and neighbors.

Now lets talk about leadership: A man who hates himself will be a hard person to follow.

The bible has a high standard for those who are to lead A deacon must be the husband of but one wife, a good manager of his children and of his own household. 

You must have your house “in order” if you’re going to lead.

Now lets take this a step further.

How can a nation who hates itself, help the world?

It can’t.

We can’t be giving billions in unaccountable foreign aid before we first balance our own budgets , pay off our debts and take care of our own people.

Only a healthy nation who has strong identity in Chirst can be an effective leader to their neighbors.

America First may sound selfish but hopefully you can now see why it’s essential that we first get our house in order.

America has been a leading force for good in this world. We’ve sent out more missionaries and aid to impoverished people than any nation on earth, perhaps in history. We’ve ended slavery, and made all men and women equal under the law. We helped liberate Europe from the Nazi’ vision of a Third Reich and provided a safe haven of freedom and justice for all, for oppressed peoples across the world to flock to.

Back in the day we had mass immigration from all over the world. People and families would spend their life savings just for the chance to come to America and start a new life .

I’m proud of our history. Although it may not be perfect, it is far from wretched, far from evil and far from selfish. America is not a racist or hateful nation full of white supremacists. It’s God’s nation founded on freedom for all. This is why Satan is trying so hard to destroy it.

Today lets remember our true history of Independence and freedom from Tyranny.

Let us choose to receive the free gift of God’s love, by putting our trust in Jesus. Then we can fully love others, out of pure love that God gives.

God’s kind of love never fails.

Over time, as I’ve learned to love myself the way God loves me, my motives for helping others has changed. I care way less about what people think about me and just genuinely enjoy extending a helping hand. My value is not in what I do but in what God did for me.

God loves you. Learn to see yourself the way God does.