The Bottom Line
"Love your neighbor as yourself."1
Dr. Alfred Adler, international psychiatrist, based the following conclusions on a careful analysis of thousands of patients: "The most important task imposed by religion has always been, 'Love your neighbor....' It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow man who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring."
True, Jesus did say that we were to love our neighbor as we love our own self, but as somebody else said, "Heaven help your neighbor if you hate yourself." If I happen to hate myself, I will tend to project my feelings of self-hatred onto my neighbor, and while I may not hate him, I will find it difficult, if not impossible, to love him. This is because I can only love and accept others to the degree that I have learned to love and accept myself—in a healthy way that is.
So, if we are to follow Jesus' example and admonition to love our neighbor (all people), we need to resolve our damaged and negative emotions that block or hinder our loving ourselves so we can be free to love others.
While we are working towards that goal, we can choose to do the loving thing to others even if we don't fully feel that love yet. And what an impact we Christians would make in our homes, places of business, schools, cities, and nation if every one of us would make the commitment every day to love our neighbor, mean it, and practice it. It's still important to do right whether we feel like doing it or not.
Let's pray that we will!
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to love and accept myself as you love and accept me, and please help me to love my neighbor (every life I touch) and be as Christ to him/her today. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Mark 12:31.