…You shall love your neighbor as yourself….
— Mark 12:31 (ESV)
Sometimes the wounds of the soul result from bad choices people around us have made. As God heals your soul, you may notice that certain relationships in your life are changing. You may sense a need for space in a relationship with someone you feel very close to. Or you may have done a lot of things with one person for a long time, but now you are beginning to want to broaden your circle of friends. You may have been someone’s “go to” person in every situation, but you are starting to feel he or she is asking too much from you. Different relationships change in different ways, and when God changes you (which is what happens when your soul is healed and strengthened), do not be surprised if some of your relationships need to change, too.
Many people in the world today need help. If we love them, we want to help them and we are often willing to spend time, effort, and money to do whatever we can do for them. The Bible clearly teaches us to love and serve one another (see John 13:34; Rom. 13:8; Gal. 5:13). But sometimes we can help people too much, to the point the relationship becomes codependent, which is very unhealthy.
When people are codependent, it means they allow someone else’s problems or bad choices to control them. They don’t know how their day will go because they wait to see how the other person is, and what he or she needs. If we allow ourselves to be in a codependent relationship, we are enabling another person’s bad or unhealthy behavior. We are not truly loving that person or allowing him or her to grow and mature. We are also failing to love ourselves.
When a scribe asked Jesus what was the greatest of all the commandments, Jesus said, The most important is…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:28–30 ESV). Then He went on to say that the second most important commandment is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31 ESV). Clearly, God wants us to love ourselves—not to be selfish or self-centered, but to love ourselves in healthy ways, just as we love others in healthy ways. He has called us to help people and even to do so when we have to sacrifice something for ourselves, but He has not called us to allow other people’s choices to control or manipulate us.
Whenever you see a Bible verse that talks about loving others, apply it also to loving yourself. That will help you be a good friend or family member, while also helping you take care of yourself in relationships.
Prayer of the Day: Lord, I am committed to loving other people, while also loving myself in the way You love me. Please help me to walk in love in every aspect of my life, amen.