WHO ARE YOU?
Throughout my years as a spiritual leader, I have preached and taught many variations of God’s command focusing on loving others, found in Leviticus 19 and in Mark 12. Shortly after I started focusing on this life instruction, though, I came to realize there is not one command here but two. The prominent command is, of course, “Love your Neighbour.” The less obvious is “Love Yourself.”
In our 21st Century society, loving yourself seems to have become a ‘new age’ cliché for do whatever is necessary to make your life comfortable and prosperous. Is that what Yahweh meant, when He taught us this life lesson?
God made it perfectly clear He views self-knowledge in the context of our community, read clans and tribes, and of our ancestral history. What does this mean and how does this apply to us today?
To acquire good sense is to love oneself; to treasure discernment is to prosper. (Proverbs 19:8)
Beloved friends, let us love one another; because love is from God; and everyone who loves has God as his Father and knows God. (1 John 4:7)
As we read through the Bible, both the TaNaKh, the Hebrew Scriptures, and the Apostolic Scriptures, the New Testament, we come across several genealogies. Each of these traces the ancestral tools of the main figure in the story being read. There is a very clear purpose for these genealogies. The questions for me, then, are: Why is knowing my origins so important? and Why does God think this knowledge is important? The short answer appears to be that through our genealogical understandings, we begin to know ourselves, the first requirement of loving oneself.
Let me ask you this question: Do you know who you are? If you are a child of God, that is a simple question to answer. As a child of God, you belong to God; you are His child, part of His family, right back to Adom and Chava.
But to as many as did receive him, to those who put their trust in his person and power, he gave the right to become children of God, not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God. (John 1:12,13)
If you are not a child of God, then to whom do you belong? Perhaps your response is, “I am my own person; I belong to me.” A noble sentiment, indeed, but somewhat delusional. Why do I say that? The truth is, if we are our own masters, that meaning we are in control of our own destinies, then we have fools for masters. Each one of us is part of God’s plan; each one of us has a role to play, even though we may have no understanding of that role. This is not to say we don’t make our own choices. Certainly we do; He has given us the freedom to choose whose path we follow, the path of righteousness or the path of unrighteousness. There is no third option.
Here is how one can distinguish clearly between God’s children and those of the Adversary: everyone who does not continue doing what is right is not from God. Likewise, anyone who fails to keep loving his brother is not from God. (1 John 3:10)
“But,” you counter, “I’m a good person; I have never done anything wrong.” In your eyes that may be so. But, your eyes are not the eyes of God. I know many, if not most, human beings believe the laws of man are enough for us. Really!? These ‘rules of man’ have brought us untold depravity in human relations, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and others, who desire autocratic rule, where their laws prevail. Is this the standard of conduct we want for our society?
Another issue of belonging focuses on the way we treat the vulnerable members of our society. This morning I had a conversation with some male friends. The topic of our conversation was paying taxes, an appropriate topic for this time of year. The general feeling around the group was we are paying too many taxes, especially for the administration of our social services. As the conversation continued, it became more ‘lively’. After a while, I couldn’t hold my tongue and shared with them the reality of governments always looking for the gold standard in administration; however, the bottom line is always how much are we prepared to pay in order to ensure our community, however that is defined, is functioning well. “The alternatives,” I shared, “are anarchy or oligarchy. Is this what we want for our community?” I asked.
To whomever we belong, there are our hearts. Each one of us needs to answer the question, Who am I?
CONSIDER: Do you know enough about yourself, your family history, to truly say you deeply understand who you are? Do you understand how your values evolved, through the trials faced by your ancestors? If not, I invite you to explore your family genealogy, your family tree, to gain insights into who you are
ACTION: The first step in loving ourselves is knowing who we are. Scripture and the Holy Spirit of the Living God will guide you, as you engage.
PRAYER: Abba B’Shamayim, Father in Heaven, help me please to understand the depths to which my roots grow. Help me know clearly my values, my principles and the standard of conduct which guide my daily life. In Your Beloved Name I pray.