Loving others and loving self

A couple days ago I posted a collection of quotes from Don Richard Riso on "real love." One of those quotes -- a proverb, really -- led me to think more deeply. 

"Real love seeks nothing for itself but is not self-forgetting."

There is so much wisdom in this proverb that it is worth its own post. I have spent my adult life seeking to grow in real love. Much of what I have done has focused on the first half of the proverb: "seeks nothing for itself." This has meant finding ways to lay down my life for the good of others. As a spiritual leader, I am always looking to influence people to love in this way. 

Lately I have been learning that the second half -- "not self-forgetting" -- is just as important as the first half. Believe it or not, this has come as a bit of a revelation to me. I come from a family that leans toward seeking the good of others, even sometimes at the expense of self (and family). For some folks, it can be difficult to give ourselves permission to be good to ourselves. But the God of the Bible is just as much in this side of the proverb as he is in the other side. You might have heard that love extends both to others and to yourself, but when God brings it home to you, it will cause you both to rejoice and to rethink many things.

For one thing, I rethink what Jesus meant when he quoted the Scriptures: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." (Matt 22:39)

We all need to grow in both sides of this proverb, and different seasons of life will open up new growth in one side or the other — more authentically seeking the good of others or seeking the good of oneself. This means taking decisive new steps to build others up or take better care of yourself (and your family). Which side of the proverb do you feel most challenged by today or in this season? What is the invitation that is open in front of you? 


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