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Recently, it surprised me how often in the New Testament we’re commanded to love one another.
James 2:8 says that such loving fulfills the royal law. I take that to mean the supreme law—one that supersedes all commands.
As a life principle, who could argue against it? The problem for most of us - or at least for me - is that I have to confess failure more often than success when it comes to obeying. My tendency is to say (or think), “Yes, I love Hank, but...”
Three months ago, I was pondering Jesus’ double command to love God with our total being and others as ourselves (i.e., on the same level we love ourselves). See Matthew 22:37–39.
A thought hit me: I can’t truly love anyone else unless I first love Cec Murphey. Loving him means accepting him exactly as he is and not judging him. This isn’t to say ignore his shortcomings. If I love myself, I can show mercy and kindness to Cec, despite his mistakes and sins.
That led me to this: On the level that I love myself, I love those people in my life. If I can accept myself uncritically, I can pass on that compassion. My struggle has focused on unrestricted self-acceptance. That’s when I began daily my selfish-love prayer: Lord, help me love Cec uncritically so that I can love people nonjudgmentally.
I call it selfish because my goal is to blindly accept others as they are, but to do that I have to categorically love the man inside my skin.
My prayer encourages me to lavish grace on Cec so that he can extend it to everyone else. I call it selfish only because I’m learning self-compassion with a purpose. Perhaps many can accomplish that purpose easier than I can. I know that each morning my motivation to be more tolerant and kind to Cec has a further purpose to accept individuals without restriction.
I haven’t fully succeeded, but with this motive in mind, I’m slowly fulfilling Jesus’ words to love people on the same level as I love myself.
-from Cec Murphey's June 2017 newsletter