“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16—paraphrased)
Every time I read this passage of scripture I get chills reawakening me to the knowledge that I am loved! Can you imagine God loving us so much that He willingly gave His only begotten (by virgin birth) Son so that whoever (I am part of the “whoever”) believes in Him would eternal life? I can and do believe exactly what the Word says. I know—no doubt in my heart—that if I had been the only person on the planet, He still would have died, just for me and if you believe it—just for you. What an awesome God! We are loved by Love [“God is love…” (I John 4:8, 16)]—unconditionally—no holds barred—no matter what we have done or will do-we are loved!
Sometimes, I know it’s difficult to love everyone, but when I think I just can’t take some people any more, He always shows me how to do it. Do I always like it? No! I do not always want to love everyone, but He has taught me how to love the unlovable. How? There are really only two commandments that should concern us: “Love the Lord our God with all our hearts soul and mind and love one another as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22:37-39—paraphrased). If we truly love the Lord, we do not want to disappoint Him, so we do all that is in our power to please Him. Isn’t that what we do when we love someone—we try to please them? I’m not advocating trying to pacify everyone you know. That is an impossible task. However, when we try to please God, based upon those things He has admonished us to do in His Word; we can be assured of success and in pleasing Him. Likewise, if we have love for others, don’t we do those things we know will please them?
For instance, with regard to personal relationships between spouses, parents and children, family and friends, we do those things that show them how much we care. We are considerate and compassionate and are always there to support those we love, no matter what. Would we be inconsiderate of ourselves or beat ourselves, or cuss ourselves? Not likely. So why would we do it to others when we know that we are to “love others as we love ourselves.”
Since I cannot divulge stories about other people I know to illustrate this point, I’ll use myself. For eighteen years I smoked cigarettes (yes, I know it was stupid, now) because I really didn’t know that the very act of smoking involved my lack of self-love. After I quit smoking (because of rising prices—at the time $1.45/pack), and began seeking understanding about how to love me—I realized that any act that could potentially cause my body to malfunction was an indicator that I did not love me. During my tenure of jail-ministry, I remember telling the inmates how stupid smoking was. They didn’t buy it so I explained it this way: “If someone handed you something to drink or eat with a skull and crossbones on the container, would you drink or eat it?” I received a resounding, “No!” My next statement to them was, “So, why would you continue to smoke cigarettes when the warning on the pack tells you it could kill you?” They didn’t have an answer. My guess is since many people are still smoking, no matter how much they cost (more than a gallon of gas), they don’t have an answer either. My conclusion about these people is that they have not learned to love self. When we love self—we will not do things that will cause us harm or put us in harm’s way.
This is an excerpt from “I Am All That God Says I Am”