Friday, September 8, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: The most important law to live by in this world

Loving Others As You Love Yourself
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ... Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” –Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

If you had the opportunity to ask a judge which law is the most important one to uphold, how do you think they’d respond? Don’t murder? Don’t steal? 

Due to all the crazy antics they are required to adjudicate, I suspect any seasoned justice of the peace would give an answer that is broader than the specifics of any single law. They might just give the same answer Jesus Christ did: Love.

It doesn’t take watching more than watching a couple episodes of the TV show “Judge Judy” to understand people can be very self-serving and believe that loving others is contradictory to loving themselves. But this is deceived thinking. Have they never experienced the joy of seeing a family member smile when they gave a gift? Have they forgotten the healing that comes from the mutual squeeze of a hug?

What we often misunderstand when it comes to love is when we give it, we receive it. Unlike money, which only stays with the one who holds it, love is a commodity that grows exponentially when planted within another person.

Have you ever tried the smile game? Go out into public and collect smiles by offering smiles. See who responds to this little show of love. You’ll notice time and again that people soften when they receive social niceties. You get a smile when you give a smile. Just playing the game will improve your day!

Loving others is not mutually exclusive to loving yourself but is meant to happen simultaneously. Each time the command is given in the old or new testaments of The Holy Bible it is stated we are to love your neighbor as yourself. This two-letter word “as” is a conjunction in the English language, meaning one event is happening while the other is also in progress.

This is not to say that every person you show kindness to is going to behave similarly. Not all people will smile back. But when you give, you know within yourself that you are doing a good thing. You know the behavior pleases God. And that connection to our Creator is far more important than looking to please people. Loving God comes first.

To please God, whom we are to love first, we’ve been asked to love people. This is a command that heals us as we put it into practice. Love is mutually beneficial because by doing what God asks of us is to love Him. It’s like when your parent asks you to be kind to your sibling. That show of love creates a peace within the home that rewards everyone.

God is described in 1 John 4:16 as being love. So, if God wants us be loving, it is going to be good for us. Love is simply the fuel that His kingdom runs on. We need to quit thinking that giving is losing. Instead, we need to believe that love is prolific and abundant, multiplying itself when put into action! We are filled with love as...or while...or at the same time as...or in conjunction with loving others.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, we bow to Your will in love. We ask for open eyes that we might see how living out love is producing more love, that we might be more motivated to fall in line with Your ways. In asking for Your kingdom come, we humbly note our blockade of fear in the way. Remove our fear of insufficiency and renew our hope in the abundance of Your love. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Love God Love People” by Danny Gokey. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior. 

She has a diverse background in business, fitness, and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both programs primarily served women in the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She’s been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she’s served, Sharon sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, divide their time between Oregon and Hawaii. They have two grown children.

Currently, Sharon is encouraging others via her inspirational blog, but prefers sharing face to face. Additionally, she is studying Christian fiction writing.

Connect with Sharon:

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