When I was younger, I often feared God from the Old Testament Bible stories. In The Ten Commandments Moses climbed up the mountain to receive knowledge from God and people were so unruly that Moses broke tablets and lightning came down from the sky. Rivers split to protect and to destroy. As a child, I was so scared to do anything because God would punish me for my bad behavior.
I often freak out because I didn’t even understand the “rules”, where they came from, and what they meant. As a six-year-old, what does it even mean to covet someone’s wife? I got the not kill or steal part, but I had no clue what a Sabbath was. This left me afraid of doing anything against the Bible. I was always afraid if I curse or that bubble gum I took from Granny’s candy dish was going to have me catch on fire the next time I walked in church.
Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself.Amos 2:14-16
Thankfully, I never needed to wear fire resistant underwear because of flammable pants, my nose never grew, and my eyes never got stuck that way. I believed that if I didn’t specifically do the Ten, I could do other things. I told half-truths or omitted things instead of lies. I never dishonored my parents, so I must be honoring/respecting them. Similar things to get around not making God mad and whatever the church told me to not do, I avoided for the most part. But there was still a fear of mean God, punishing me for something one day.
But since then, I’ve realized that God no longer punishes you for your misdeeds immediately with fire and brimstone, but he allows the consequences to come naturally. You may not get set on fire for lying but people distrusting you and having to lie to cover up a lie is your punishment. I always wished someone explained it simply instead of complex language and one day I found Romans.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Romans 13:9
For many years of my life, I thought that if I loved, cared for, and did for others, I was successful. I loved others so hard, that when it was time for me to recharge my own battery, I was empty. I was loving other people so that I could love myself and found out I was attracting people who didn’t love me at all. I was empty and not getting poured into. In fact, I didn’t even know what love looked like.
A hidden truth behind “Love your neighbor as yourself” is figuring out a true reason why you shouldn’t commit adultery, murder, theft, or the act of coveting. You must value and love yourself so much, that anything less than the best is almost dirty to you. I shouldn’t want your girlfriend because I should want someone who is solely desiring me romantically. I shouldn’t want to steal from someone because the fruits of my labor are too sweet to deny my own gratification and rob someone of their fruit. This is a fine love but it is a passive, self-contained, and ultimately a self-serving love.
Something was missing and I spent days thinking about how there was a dissonance between me only focusing on loving myself, and not infringing on others that left me feeling dirty. If I just didn’t do harm and treated myself well, is that truly God’s love?
I figured out what was missing from the version of love that I was building. Come back and find out how it all pieces together tomorrow.
Turn Your Brightness Up!