A commandment is a law or principle that governs a kingdom and brings order so that control is maintained. Where there are no laws or rules, chaos is the order of the day. When God set the world in motion He spoke the Word and set laws in place to control and guide the world – the wind, the seas, the sun, animal and plant life are all governed by these laws.

God has also spoken laws for mankind – there are laws of spirituality, emotional wellbeing, mental and physical health, wealth and relationships. These laws are there to govern man’s life, to bring order and freedom. They are set in place for us to live within their boundaries – they are not designed to confine or limit us as we are often led to believe, but to give us liberty and freedom. Birds have freedom in the air where they can soar to breath-taking heights and then swoop low near to ground level – within these boundaries they are majestic. Fish have freedom in the seas where they can go to the depths of the sea or swim near to the surface they too are majestic and awesome in their element and environment. Should any of these magnificent creatures decide that they want to change environment, for example the bird deciding to live in the sea or the fish deciding to live on land, they would be breaking ‘the laws’ which govern the type of environment they were created to live.

Laws, particularly universal laws are therefore designed for our protection and provision and exist regardless of whether we believe them or not. The law of gravity states that what goes up must come down – if you were to throw an object out of a window the law of gravity would pull it downwards. It is therefore imperative to accept these laws and work with them, not against them, as they are timeless, eternal and universal.

These laws are “lighthouses”, as described by Stephen Covey in his ground-breaking book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ lighthouses by which it is vital to circumnavigate and build our lives around. They are not like public laws such as traffic speed laws which you can physically break and incur the judgment and punishment of a fine, driving ban, or even a prison sentence; with these laws, when your time is done in the eyes of the law you have paid your dues and therefore your slate is clean.

Universal laws, commandments and principles are different – they are unbreakable. They cannot be broken, rather what actually happens when we “break the law” by contravening them is that we break ourselves on the lighthouses.
There is then a law, a principle, and an unbreakable tenet of self-love that we need to know, understand and apply if we are to love ourselves deeply and intrinsically.

How can you love yourself truly and deeply? How can you work with your heart and passion in all you do? How can you be all that God has called you to be, living fully for God on purpose? How can you live your life feeling fulfilled and loved by yourself and others? These are some of the probing questions that we may continually ask ourselves on our journey of life, but where do we begin to find the answers to them? - I think that we may find some answers in the words of Jesus in Matthew 22 and Mark 12. Jesus had just finished a discourse with the Sadducees when the Pharisees, students of the law, approached Him with a probing question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”

Without hesitation, he quotes them an Old Testament scripture as the greatest and first commandment:
“Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29-30 / Deuteronomy 6:4-5)He then adds to this a New Testament quotation as the second commandment: “And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31

All relationships therefore should begin with a healthy relationship with yourself, and then you can begin to have a healthy relationship with others. In fact, Jesus goes even further to state that the key to all relationships is first a loving relationship upwards with God, then inwards with yourself, and then outwards to others – in that order. That’s why we are told to ‘love our neighbour as we love ourselves’. This is a kingdom principle – first internal and then external for “the kingdom of God does not come with observation” (Luke 17:20), but it is in you, starting small like a mustard seed but when fully grown expanding and overflowing.

Jesus also states that the second commandment is like the first which begs the question, what is the first commandment or law? It is to love with all of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength. There is then a need to love ourselves deeply, intelligently, thoughtfully, and with passion – not in a narcissistic or unhealthy way, but in way that brings glory to God. There is a need to love ourselves in all our capacities –heart, soul, mind and strength – and to truly love in these capacities we must learn to give to ourselves because true love requires giving. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...” (John 3:16).
We may say “I love myself”, and often when we say this we think of certain qualities that we like about ourselves, or we may even quote a scripture such as, “I'm fearfully and wonderfully made”. But these can sometimes be just words that only scrape the surface of who we are, and only provide a momentary fix, but do not go deep enough to where we really are as individuals. They also do not help the deep internal conflict going on inside our minds, the feelings of low self-esteem and the comparison with others that we may battle on the inside. The second commandment is to love others as we love ourselves therefore the converse may also be true – you may dislike others as you dislike yourself. Your treatment of others can be a painful but true indication of your treatment of yourself.

How can we stop this dissatisfaction? I suggest we go deep – as the surface band-aid remedies, as I have discovered, do little to stop our deep inner conflicts. In ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Stephen Covey gives a beautiful illustration of this concept. He tells the story of a man who comes to him for counselling. This man tells him that he is no longer in love with his wife and that they have drifted apart and the marriage has broken down. Stephen advises him that they should try to repair the marriage and not give up so easily. The man responds, “But I don't have any feelings for my wife anymore.” Stephen replies, “Just give to her, serve her, respond to her, do the act of love and the feelings will come later.” The point Stephen is making in this example is that love is a verb. Western society and philosophy has made love purely a feeling and a sentimental notion but true love requires some action in the form of self-sacrifice. In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Peter a question: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” Simon answers, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You”, to which Jesus replies, “Feed My lambs.” Jesus asks Peter this question three times and of course Peter gets a bit agitated but I think Jesus was just stressing the point that the evidence of Peter’s love for Him is to “feed His lambs”; to tend His sheep and feed His sheep – this requires action.

The law of self-love requires three stages: first, you put God first and love Him wholly, and in so doing He reveals to you the real you; secondly, you love yourself truly, deeply and intrinsically; and then finally, in loving yourself you are then able to truly love others.

Author's Bio: 

As well as an author, Marcia Batten is also an inspirational speaker and brings a unique motivational style to her presentations. As the founder of Pass the Baton Enterprise, a leadership organisation, she presents spiritually empowering messages to enrich her audience’s spiritual development and growth.

She is also a student of personal development and is a trained NLP practitioner and teaches introductory courses on the subject.

For more information please visit: www.marciabatten.com