by Niki Turner
Jesus was pretty clear about the commandments He considers most important...
Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."
Matt 22:37-40 (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
Love the Lord your God... check.
...as you love yourself.
Christians, particularly Christian women, are often terrible at keeping the third part of those instructions. I know I am.
I've been battling with some physical symptoms for the last month or two. Upon seeking God's wisdom and direction as to a course of diagnosis and treatment, I felt a distinct conviction from the Holy Spirit about something I've been doing. Now, you might think I'd be convicted about my eating habits, or my exercise program, or my (lack) of a consistent sleeping routine, but that's not what I sensed the Holy Spirit prodding me about.
In a nutshell, He told me I need to stop being so mean. To me. My negative attitude and words about myself are as dangerous and detrimental as ingesting any external poison, and until I put a stop to my toxic tongue, I'm thwarting my own progress toward health and well-being.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
James 3:5-11 NKJV
Consider this: Would you talk to anyone else the way you talk to yourself? Would you castigate a loved one for an error or accident? Would you write off a friend as worthless because of a failed job, marriage, or other assignment? Would you look at a beloved friend standing beside you in the mirror and say vicious, terrible things about her appearance? Would you verbally abuse your mother/sister/daughter by calling her stupid, fat, ugly, or a failure?
Of course not! That's not walking in love!
But when was the last time you said ugly, mean, hateful things to (or about) yourself, whether in your mind or aloud? For many of us, it's a perpetual habit which I believe grieves the Lord, and has a detrimental effect on our minds and bodies. Put simply, being mean and nasty to yourself is as much a breach of the Lord's commandment as being cruel to your fellow man or ignoring and denying God Himself.
So the next time you're tempted to criticize, belittle, and abuse yourself for whatever reason, remember... if you wouldn't say it to your neighbor, don't say it to yourself. It's OK to love yourself, to be kind to YOU, to grant yourself the same unconditional love you grant to your family and friends. Today I challenge you to talk to yourself like one of God's dearest, most precious, most beloved children today, because that is who you are!
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God — you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration — what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.
Ps 139:13-16 (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
Niki Turner is a writer, former pastor's wife, mother of four, and grandmother of two. She has thus far been unsuccessful at coming up with catchy taglines for her writing, her purpose in life, or what she hopes to achieve in the future. Suggestions are welcome.