Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself

Matthew 22:35-39

35. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

36. Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38. This is the first and great commandment.39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

We spend so much time in the church trying to serve one another. We prepare lessons for Gospel Doctrine class, we bake food for a family that recently had a baby, we give rides to and from who knows where, we fill callings even though sometimes they are ill-timed and issued more out of necessity than inspiration, we help the missionaries, we collect fast offerings, we painstakingly prepare for camp-outs, early morning seminary and sacrament talks. The women work tirelessly to find the perfect “Pinterest” worthy activity or center piece or theme for their young women events or Relief Society gathering. We serve and we serve and we serve…

I am not complaining. There is great joy in service. Much of what is truly worth anything in this world flows directly from our commitment to Christ-Like service.

I just want to point out a simple idea that is often glossed over when one reads those verses.

How many of those same faithful brothers beat themselves up for “falling short” or not “doing more” or for not “measuring up”. How many men feel like they are doing all they can in this crazed world, never taking any time for himself, for if he did he would feel guilty for shirking his church responsibilities, his home responsibilities or his work responsibilities? So they press on, trying to give, trying to serve, trying tap into a well of Living Water, promised to them by their acts of service, and yet still feel dry and empty inside.

How many of those faithful sisters that work day in and day out striving to be good mothers, YW teachers, RF instructors, camp directors and so on, crumble in tears and despair after an exhausting day of grueling motherhood and church responsibility, feeling like they cannot keep up, measure up or ever possibly make a difference?

Can we expect to tap directly into the source of “Living Water” if we are missing part of the 2nd great commandment?

Jesus commands us to love God first and foremost.

Second we are to love our neighbor as our self.

He could have just said that we are to “love our neighbor” but that qualifier he included at the end has meant more and more to me over the last few years.

If we were to treat our neighbors with the same malcontent and harsh judgement that we oft times treat ourselves, nobody would have any friends.

It is necessary for people to treat themselves with the same regard, self-care, nurturing love and forgiveness that we, as Christians, strive daily to do for our Nieghbors. Is it selfish to take an honest break? Is it lazy to take an honest night off? Is it Christian to simply do something nice for yourself?

“Gasp!!”

“No!! We can’t!! There are people to serve, things to do, lessons to plan, souls to save, I must…stay….busy!!!!”

Take a deep breath. It is going to be ok.

It is not only Christian, it is part of the 2nd greatest commandment, which stems from the 1st.

We are to love God first. We love Him and we know that He loves us. He wants us to be happy and to be like Him…merciful and loving. With the knowledge that we are loved by the Supreme Being in the Universe, we know we as individuals have self worth. I have intrinsic value to God. If I am Loved and valued by him, I need to take care of myself. I need to take the time to take care of the gift of life that He has granted me. My body, my mind, my heart, my soul. I need to take time to recharge, to slow down and appreciate his creations, to work and to rest. I need to laugh and experience the joy that exists in life, even when it is at it’s most depressing. If I can care for myself the way that God would want me to, I am in a better position to strengthen and serve my “Neighbor”.

It is often in moments of extreme stress after neglecting myself for weeks on end that I am most tempted to act out with my addiction. We must take the time to be kind and good and charitable towards ourselves, to our minds, body and spirits. We must take time to heal when we are hurt by life’s challenges or sin. We must find healthy ways to cope with the pain of mortality. But that is made much more difficult when we “love our neighbors more than ourselves”.

Plan a date night.

Shamelessly delegate a responsibility…that is one of the reasons we have counselors.

Take your shoes off, loosen your tie, watch a good movie, BBQ something awesome.

The church will survive your absence for the night.

As a matter of fact, you and the church full of your neighbors will be better served for it.