Your God, Your Neighbor, and Even Yourself
By Tom Mountenay of Independence, MO, USA
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” —Matthew 22:36–40 NRSV, adapted
Recently I shared with a friend my latest landscaping project and how much pleasure I get from working with stones. I said, “I don’t mean to brag, but I have a good sense of selecting what stones I should place next to each other.”
My friend said to me, “You should brag about what gives you pleasure and satisfaction.” During this conversation, my friend helped me realize that knowing what gives me joy and sharing that with others is “speaking well” of myself and is a blessing I need to give myself. I do not believe this is self-centered!
Today’s scripture passage from Matthew brings another “truth” to mind:
By taking on the life and mind of Christ, you increasingly view yourself and others from a changed perspective. —2013 words of counsel (bold for emphasis)
“To believe in blessing is to believe that our being here, our presence in the world, is itself the first gift, the primal blessing,” says John O’Donohue. “To be born is to be chosen. To be created and come to birth is to be blessed” (Kindness: the First Gift, http://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=968).
Remember to bless you! Blessed to be a blessing includes blessing yourself. Blessing one’s self is an equal priority to blessing others.
(It) is not right to profess oneness and equality in Christ through sacramental covenants and then to deny that equality by attitude, word, or action. Such behavior wounds Christ’s body and denies what is eternally resolved in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. —2013 words of counsel
Remembering that each of us is a beloved child of God should cause each of us, as disciples, to give affirmations, encouragement, and nurturing to ourselves as people of worth. Speak well of others! Affirm people! And remember to do the same for yourself!
Prayer for Peace
Loving God, you have bent low to ask of us the love of our poor hearts. You have asked us to love our neighbors. We understand we are to love ourselves as well. Thank you for this balance in our lives. Thank you for completing the circle of peace.
Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community
Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the friendships in your life. See and feel connections with family members, spiritual friends, people in your congregation and community, and people and creatures in God’s sacred web of life. What blessings flow to you from these circles? How have you felt the love of the community?
Today, God, I will put others first, but I will also include myself.