Mark 12:29-31: “Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Jesus is describing a love circle here. The first commandment is to love the Lord, and the second is equally important: to love your neighbor as yourself. These two love commands are a circle that cannot be broken. The reason being: love is not solitary and love is not exclusive.

1)      Solitary love: Love focused on just one person – could be myself, which is narcissism, could be a person other than myself, which is idolatry

2)      Exclusive love: Love based on conditions – could be withholding love if a person is not up to standard, could be favoritism and club-forming creating insiders and outsiders

Life-giving and productive love exists in God’s unbroken circle: Loving the Lord, loving one’s neighbor, loving oneself. We hear a lot about loving the Lord and loving the neighbor. However, we don’t hear a lot about loving oneself, and yet, it’s an equally important part in the love circle.

Song lyrics by Gerald Goldstein, Linda Creed, Michael William Masser address the issue of self-love in the song “The Greatest Love”, made famous by the late Whitney Houston:

“The greatest love of all is easy to achieve. Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all”

If you don’t love yourself, you are similar to a broken vessel, and the love God pours into you will never fill you up.  Broken as you are, you cannot contain love and therefore you won’t sufficiently give love. This would be a dysfunctional circle.  Jesus puts this dysfunctional circle back together by being bruised for our transgressions, by being broken so we could be made whole. Prophet Isaiah wrote in chapter 53:5:

“But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”

Let Jesus restore your self-worth, your dignity, so that the love God wants to pour into you can be contained, so that you can love God and people. John wrote in his first letter to believers (1 John 4:19): “We love each other because he loved us first.”

Let God love you; let God heal you; and be introduced into the Circle of Love!

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