I know it, you know it.
It comes from the Bible:
"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you."
(Matthew 7:12, NLT)
There's also this:
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31, ESV)
I think we're all very familiar with these verses. And they're so very important. The whole concept of kindness and sympathy and compassion is integral to who Jesus was, and to who He continues to be.
I believe that He was gentle and patient with people – (except for those Pharisees, but they deserved it!!)
I believe it's how He truly wants us to be, following His example of mercy.
Therefore, I believe that most of us strive to obey these commandments.
However, there's something else I want to talk about today.
And that is the idea of how do we treat ourselves?
In a recent conversation with a friend – (you know who you are!!) – it quickly became very apparent that we are very hard on ourselves.
And I've been pondering that.
If I apply the Golden Rule to myself, what does that look like?
For instance, if I was to treat my neighbor as I've treated myself lately, this is how it would look:
I would tell them they're weak.
I would tell them they're a lousy Christian with little faith.
I would tell them they're overweight, lazy, and unattractive.
I would tell them they're stupid.
I would tell them they can't ever do anything right.
I would tell them they are worthless.
I would tell them that they are alone and abandoned.
I would tell them to give up.
I could easily come up with many other statements. Very easily.
But, can you even imagine what would happen if I actually did say these things to someone else??
I see lawsuits, and retaliation, and ugly recriminations.
So, really, why do I do this to myself then?
My friend and I talked about times of suffering and discouragement. We talked about spiritual battles in the midst of these times.
And I believe one of the biggest struggles I face in these *seasons* is not so much turning my back on Jesus.
No, it's refusing to apply His grace to me.
I don't find it terribly difficult to be kind to others who are suffering. But when the suffering plants itself on my doorstep, I can become downright cruel to myself.
So, here's where I come to the concept of grace.
I even looked it up in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary:
R emembering and
E ternal love
I find myself able to embrace the grace of my Savior as it applies to salvation. And I am able to pass it on to others most of the time.
But, when it comes to me – nope. I don't give myself any room to be *human* without an inner dialogue of unkind thoughts – especially when I'm tired or sick, or sick and tired.
I begin to see the enemy at work here.
Sometimes his weapons against those who sincerely desire to follow Jesus become more subtle.
Direct attacks like, "Forget about God" – or "Turn your back on God" – or "Curse and deny God" – those don't usually affect me too much.
But, when the enemy influences my own thoughts, and turns me against myself – well, that's when I essentially turn my back on grace.
I have this picture:
Jesus, reaching out His scarred and loving hands to me, pleading with me to accept the kindness, compassion, mercy, and gentleness He extends to me…
…and me, turning my back on Him and saying, "No thanks, I'm a worm."
Oh yes, it's true, Jesus did save a wretch like me – but it wasn't for the purpose of always having me feel wretched.
And when I am suffering or feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, when I am struggling, it certainly doesn't help to pile on a bunch of internal kibitzing.
I think you get the picture.
So for me, the spiritual battle lies in accepting grace.
In giving myself some room to be sad or mad or discouraged or in pain – without also telling myself that I'm a loser.
Even in these moments, I have to refocus and look at myself through the loving eyes of Jesus.
Jesus, the One who says:
"My grace is sufficient."
"My strength is made perfect in your weakness."
The One who says:
"I love you."
So here's what I say…
Surrender yourself to His grace.
Accept that it applies to you – not just your salvation – but your everyday, often messy, complicatedly human life.
Don't fall into complacency and say, "Oh, it's just the way I am." That is indeed the other end of the spectrum. The *flip side* of the lie that the enemy seeks to implant in our thoughts and heart.
But neither wallow in personal negativity and naysaying.
There are times in life when we just need to be kind and patient with ourselves. To extend to ourselves the same gentleness that we would extend to others.
To apply the grace that Jesus so generously offers and bestows upon us.
To internalize it.
To rest in the knowledge that we're not perfect, that sometimes we're just not doing very well, and that that really is OK.
We need to let Jesus love us, perhaps especially when we find ourselves most unlovable.
He died for our flaws, our faults, our failings.
He does not hold them against us.
Let us do the same.
Sometimes we need to do to ourselves what we would do to others.
Sometimes we need to love ourselves as we would love our neighbors.
And sometimes, we just need to cut ourselves some slack…
…and rest in the grace that has been given to us.
Be gentle, friends, be kind.
And let the Word of God be the words that you say to yourself.
"Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one…"
(Not even ourselves)
"Who then will condemn us? No one…"
(Not even ourselves)
Dear ones, if God is for us, who can ever be against us?
Oh yes, amen.
Who couldn't love
a face like that???
The LORD delights
in those who fear him.
"The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love…He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust." (Psalm 103:8, 10-14, NLT)
"I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them." (Hosea 11:3-4, ESV)
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you…will be rebuilt."
(Jeremiah 3:3-4, NIV)
"Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No...
I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35, 38-39, NLT)
"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling,
gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." (Philippians 4:8, MSG)
What lies do you tell yourself?
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