Loving Yourself

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Happy Valentines Day Second Community Church Family!  I hope that you all have something special planned with or for the special someone in your lives.  I also hope that you don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to let that special someone know how much they mean to you.  If you really love them you should be showing them everyday, and not just on special occasions.  I know right now someone is thinking my special someone never does anything for me, but let me stop you right there and redirect your train of thought.  They may not buy you flowers, candy, and jewelry, but they are doing something.  

They go to work.  

They fix things around the house.  

They wash the clothes. 

They cook.  

They put gas in your car.  

They leave you the last piece of chicken.  

They give you the biggest piece of cake.  

They give you alone time.  

They help you grade papers.  

They listen to you complain.

They clean the house.

They make sure you have everything they need.

So they may not be doing candy, flowers, and jewelry, but they are doing so much more.  Flowers die, candy expires, and jewelry fades, but the the actions of someone that loves you are priceless and last forever.

Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine,[1] is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

There are a number of martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14,[2] including an account of the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century.[3][4] According to an early tradition, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer.[5] Numerous later additions to the legend have better related it to the theme of love: an 18th-century embellishment to the legend claims he wrote the jailer’s daughter a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution;[6] another addition posits that Saint Valentine performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry.[4]

The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269.[7][8] The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the “lovebirds” of early spring. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.[9] In Italy, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart”, as well as to children to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine’s Malady).[10]

Since this is the month that we celebrate love, and we are focusing on loving ourselves and loving others this month.  I thought it was fitting to preach about love this month.  So today we are going to talk about loving ourselves.

Shall we look at the text.  In our text today Jesus had just finished putting the Sadducees in their place.  So the Pharisees got together, and one of them an expert in the law has the audacity, gumption, and the unmitigated gull to ask Jesus a question about the law.  And he asks Jesus what commandment in the law is the greatest.  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  In other words Jesus was telling the Pharisees that the most important thing in the world is love.  To love your God, to love your neighbor and to love yourself.  He also said that all the law hang on this.  Which means if you love your God with all your heart, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself you won’t have have any other gods before him.

You won’t make any idols.

You won’t take the Lord’s name in vain.

You will keep the sabbath day holy.

You will honor your mother and father.

You won’t murder.

You won’t commit adultery.

You won’t steal.

You won’t  bear false witness against your neighbor.

You won’t covet.

If you truly love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

With that being said, today we are going to talk about loving ourselves.  Jesus said in our text today to love your neighbor as yourself, but here is the wrinkle in the chitlin.  You have to love yourself before you can love your neighbor.  And some of us don’t even like ourselves, let alone love ourselves.  

So if we don’t like ourselves how in the world can we love our neighbor as ourselves.

If we are wallowing in self pity.

If we are dealing with depression.

If we are saturated in self hate.

If we are viewing ourselves as worthless.

If we think that we are no good.

If we consider ourselves unworthy.

How can we love our neighbors as ourselves?

And then there are those that have an unhealthy love for themselves.  The Bible says they think of themselves more highly than they ought to.  

They are conceited.  

They are stuck up and stuck on themselves.  

All they care about is me, myself, and I.  It is extremely hard to love your neighbor as yourself, when all you love is yourself.  You cannot even notice your neighbor let alone love them because your nose is turned so far up. 

Thinking you are all that and then some.  

Thinking you are better than everyone else.  

Well I hate to bust your bubble.  

You are not all that.  

You are not that cute.  

And you stuff stinks like everyone else’s.  

So I suggest that you check yourself before you wreck yourself.  Because if you do not humble yourself. God will do it for you.  And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be humbled by God if I can avoid it by doing it myself. 

But the bottom line is that we have to love ourselves.  Take a few minutes today and look in the mirror and ask yourself.  What is there not to love?  You are the creation of God.  He made you in His image.  In the image of God he created you.  So if you can love a flower, a tree, the grass, the birds, the sky, the moon, and the stars you should have no problem loving yourself because God created all those things just like he created you!

Here are four reasons to love yourself.  Yes you heard me correctly.  I have four points today.

Love yourself because God created you. I just mentioned it.  Psalm 139:14 I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.  We have to remember that we were created in the image of God and in His likeness.  And we should love all of God’s creation especially yourself because he made you differently than everything else that he created.  What are you talking about Pastor Brian?  Well as we started learning in Bible study this week as we began our study of the book of Genesis.  God spoke everything into existence.  He said let there be and there was.  He did this with everything except for us.  When it came to us he created us with his hands.  He put his hands on us when he formed us out of dust, and then he breathed the breath of life into us. Making us exactly what he wanted us to be.  You were created are the masterpiece of the greatest artist in the universe.  You came out just the way he wanted you to.  You love yourself because God created you.

Next, you love yourself because God commands it. Ephesians 5:29 For no one has ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, as the Messiah does the church. Proverbs 19:8 To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper.  You nourish and care for your body because you don’t hate your body.  Hate is the opposite of love.  We also do those things because we love ourselves.  To acquire, to gain knowledge and apply that knowledge is to love yourself.  So every time you or I do something to improve ourselves like taking a class, reading a book, or going to a training we are loving ourselves and God commands us to do so.  Especially in our text when Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself.  He not only commands it but says its is one of the greatest commands.  You love yourself because God commands it.

Then you love yourself because God is committed to loving you.  Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Illegal Separation) Now think about that for a moment, if God loves us so much that nothing can separate us from His love, don’t you think that makes us worthy to be loved.  Now we say all that time that we love God because he first loved us, but shouldn’t we also be able to say that we love ourselves because God loves us too?  You love yourself because God is committed to loving you.

Lastly, you love yourself because you are a child of God.  Think about that.  If God the creator of the heavens and the earth considers you his child and loves you is that not reason enough to love yourself?  What else do you need to know?

Praise the Lord!  My heart with His love is beaming,

I am a child of God;

Heaven’s golden light over me is streaming,

I am a child of God.

Let the saints rejoice with my raptured spirit,

I am a child of God;

I will testify that the world may hear it,

I am a child of God.

Let a holy life tell the gospel story,

I am a child of God;

How He fills the soul with His grace and glory,

I am a child of God.

Saved from sin today, every band is riven,

I am a child of God;

Through the tests of life I have peace from heaven,

I am a child of God.

I am a child of God,

I am a child of God;

I have washed my robes in the cleansing fountain,

I am a child of God.

And because you are a child of God you should love yourself.  Let me close with this story.

You’re the Son of God by Tony Campola

Fred Craddock is a lecturer at Phillips Theological Seminary in the United States. He tells of a time he was on holiday in Tennessee. He and his wife were having dinner at a restaurant when an old man started talking to them, asking them how they were doing and if they were enjoying their holiday. When the old man asked Fred what he did for a living Fred saw the chance to get rid of him – “I’m a preacher.”

“A preacher? That’s great. Let me tell you a story about a preacher.” The old man sat down at their table and started to speak. As he did Fred’s annoyance was changed to one of profound humility. The old man explained that he was a bastard – in the literal rather than the figurative sense. He was born without knowing who his father was, a source of great shame in a small town in the early twentieth century. One day a new preacher came to the local church. The old man explained that as a youngster he had never gone to church, but one Sunday decided to go along and hear the new pastor preach. He was good. The illegitimate boy went back again, and then again. In fact he started attending just about every week. But his shame went with him. This poor little boy would always arrive late and leave early in order to avoid talking to anyone. But one Sunday he got so caught up in the sermon that he forgot to leave. Before he knew it the service was over and the aisles were filling. He rushed to get past people and out the door, but as he did he felt a heavy hand land upon his shoulder. He turned around to see the preacher, a big tall man, looking down at him asking, “What’s your name, boy? Whose son are you?” The little boy died inside, the very thing he wanted to avoid was now here. But before he could say anything the preacher said “I know who you are. I know who your family is. There’s a distinct family resemblance. Why, you’re the son, you’re the son, you’re the son of God!”

The old man sitting at Fred Craddock’s table said “You know, mister, those words changed my life”. And with that he got up and left.

When the waitress came over she said to Fred Craddock and his wife, “Do you know who that was?”

“No” they replied.

“That was Ben Hooper, the two-term governor of Tennessee.”

So the next time you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see remember you are a child of God.

The next time you’re feeling down.

The next time you’re feeling alone.

The next time you’re lost.

The next time you’re feeling rejected.

The next time you’re not at your best.

The next time you’re feeling defeated.

The next time you make a mistake.

The next time you fall down.

The next time you’re in a mess.

The next time you get bad news.

The next time things don’t work out.

The next time someone talks about you.

The next time they leave you out.

The next time they ignore you.

The next time you don’t know what to do.

Remember that you are a child of God.

And sing a couple of childhood vacation Bible school songs…

If anybody asks you who I am, who I am, who I am…

Jesus loves me this I know…

Jesus loves the little children…

Does anyone in the room want to love themselves today?

Well wrap your arms around yourself and tell yourself…

I love myself because God created me.

I love myself because God commands me to.

I love myself because God is committed to loving me.

I love myself because I am a child of God.

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