The First Step
A lawyer once asked the Lord to state a basic principle of wholesome living: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36). If you were to answer that question, which commandment would you select? We look eagerly for the Lord’s answer:
“And 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 great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’” (verses 37-39).
Then the Lord Jesus added:
“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (verse 40).
“The great and foremost commandment” tells you to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. To say the least, this means to love Him through and through. When two people are in love with each other, they delight in each other’s presence. They go out of the way to be with each other, to talk together, to please each other, to make each other happy. They do favors for each other, give gifts to each other, write to each other. They think about each other when apart, and long to be together forever and share in all details of their lives.
Accordingly, your love for God can be measured by the time you spend talking to Him in prayer, reading and meditating on His Word, seeking to please Him. Jesus said to His disciples:
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
And the apostle John wrote:
“…but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:5-6).
The first step in finding peace with yourself, then, is in declaring and demonstrating your love for God. This is the fulfillment of the first and great commandment.
The Second Step
Jesus said that the second great commandment is this: “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Matthew 22:39). Let us consider this commandment.
You should love your neighbor! Surely your closest neighbor is your marriage partner. How much are you to love this partner? “…as yourself”! This may be a difficult concept to grasp. Are we not to crucify self, to be abased, to lose our lives, to humble ourselves? By all means! Then what does it mean to “love yourself”? It means that in the quietness of your own soul there is a consciousness that your behavior is acceptable to God and, therefore, to yourself. You can think about your behavior and say to yourself, “I believe God was pleased with what you said today, the tone of voice you used, the way you acted today, the desires that stole into your heart, the feelings that you had toward others, the thoughts that occupied your mind.” This is neither pride, nor conceit, nor selfishness. This is a wholesome spirit when combined with sincere repentance in times of failure, and a constant hunger to find strength for weakness. A healthy, wholesome regard for your inner life is a key that will enable you to love your neighbor.
In the first two lessons, we are to consider proper speech, proper actions, proper desires, proper feelings, and proper thoughts as the basis that will enable you to be at peace with yourself–to be properly adjusted personally–and to love your neighbor as yourself. Our real textbook will be the Bible.