The Man/Woman in the Mirror
- Which is harder for you: to honestly critique yourself or to receive praise from someone else? Why?
As we noticed last week, there is a powerful dynamic between the way we love God, the way we love our neighbor, and the way we love ourselves. If one of these gets out of whack, overemphasized, or neglected, it can throw the other two off balance. This week we concentrate on how we relate to ourselves.
What is your relationship with you like? Outside of your relationship with God, your relationship with you is the most important relationship you have. We hear the voice of ourselves more than any other voice, and are influenced by our thoughts more than anything else. Given this, if we don't have a good relationship with ourselves, we won’t have good relationships with others. Often the reason why our other relationships are dysfunctional is because the relationship we have with ourselves is dysfunctional.
Matthew 22 contains some familiar dialogue between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders. In verses 37-39 we find Jesus’ answer to the question of which commandment is the greatest:
Jesus said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love your neighbor… as yourself.
Love your neighbor like you love yourself.
God wants us to embrace his love for us and translate that into a healthy love for ourselves, because he knows that in the same way we love ourselves we will love our neighbors. He wants us to get to the place where we see what he sees in us and hear what he says about us.
- How would you describe the difference between humility and self-loathing?
- How can you arrive at a healthy love for yourself without thinking too highly of yourself?
When God looks at us in the “mirror,” he says:
- I love you
- I’m thankful for you
- I forgive you
- you are a rare and beautiful treasure
- you are here for a special purpose
- I am going to hold you to a high standard
- I will extend grace and mercy to you in appropriate ways
- I believe in you
Louie Giglio puts it this way:
Why would we beat ourselves up when Jesus was beaten up for us? The beating, friends, is finished. We have been forgiven. Yes, the Scriptures says we should buffet the body, but it never says buffet the soul. The soul needs to be nurtured in an incubator of the truth of what God says about who we are, and the love and the grace that he’s poured out for us in the person of Jesus Christ.
God the Father- our perfect Father- is cheering us on. When that truth gets into our hearts, what kind of life will we live?
- Is it easy or hard for you to envision God cheering for you? Do you regularly experience God as someone who cheers for you? Why or why not?
- Consider how you are doing at loving the person you see in the mirror. Is it easy or hard for you to love yourself? Do you ever fall into self-criticism? Have you ever worried that you were not worth loving? What causes you to think this way?
If you or your group wish to further explore this week’s topic:
- Refer back to the list of things God sees when he looks at us in the “mirror”:
- which one is easiest for you to hear?
- which one is the most difficult?
- what could be added to the list that you have found in Scripture?
What are some connections between this week’s topic and the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)?
Search for and list other biblical passages that describe God’s view of us. Create a master list and distribute to the group as a regular reminder of who we are in Christ.