Love your Neighbour?

More on the topic of being kind to myself.

This links to something another of my friendssaid on her blogrecently - whilst talking about it, she set me thinking hard as she frequently does…

She mentions critical self-thought and her 'internal bully'. I'm particularly bad at that - being cruel to myself - some of the things I 'say' to myself when I've made a mistake, or done something wrong, are very unpleasant. If I said them to anyone else, they'd be most upset - and rightly so.

So why is it okay to do that to myself?

The answer, probably, is that it isn't. And it struck me that if I took one of the commandments literally, I'd be in big trouble.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:28-31

If I treated 'my neighbour' (i.e. those around me) the way I treat myself, and was as rude as I am to myself, I'd have no friends.

I'd be an outcast.

I would deserve it.

Now that I stop to think about it, I can't believe that God is happy for me to be so brutal with myself… if I heard someone saying things like that to one of those I care about, I'd feel pretty much duty bound to rebuke them. Me bullying myself probably makes God feel the same.

So, perhaps, I need to turn the commandment around and say 'Love yourself as you love your neighbour.' Maybe that is the start of being kind to myself in another way?

I think that, in this, as with so much in life, it is a question of balance. The bible frequently tells us to deny ourselves:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."Matthew 16:24

We can, I think, sometimes take that too far. It can be all the excuse we need to 'beat ourselves up', if we're at all that way inclined. It is a matter, I think, of judging ourselves fairly.

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.1 John 3:19-24

I need to remember that God loves me; that I am forgiven, and then learn to forgive myself as well as others. And try to 'be kind to myself', in the same way as I seek to be kind to others.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022